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Being Dalit and Transgender: Explaining Intersectional Oppression

Transgendered Dalit activists of the Trans Rights Now Collective|Sindhu Sarathy
Dalit Transgenders are at the intersection of caste and diverse interpretations of gender, and are always the last people who are given the fundamental respect of being documented within the country's most important historical moments.

"In my work with Transrights Now Collective and Project Mukti, I often think about the history of transgender people as one driven by exoticisation, curiosity and voyeurism. To Indian historians and writers, transgenders are a category in documents, victims in fiction and curious objects to be observed. Our lives are an unfamiliar terrain ridden with taboos." says Grace Banu to The Print.

"The writers fail to see the human lives that challenge binaries imposed by cis-brahmanical patriarchy and how we struggle to fight for rights in a world that is largely divided by caste and gender binaries."

"Our stories, when written by oppressor castes, are written to reinforce phobias and stigmas against us. One could even argue that we are the most exploited category in Indian history which has volumes that describe our physical appearance, lives, and practices as a community, but hardly any are authored by us and for us. None reflect how we survive, live and love in independent, modern, digital India."

- Grace Banu

It is indeed painful to see that intersectional oppression is still not paid enough heed especially in a country like India. We know for a fact that it is the 21st century where people are working hard to find resources and are going beyond their access to find good education for themselves and their children. Even then, when we come down to marginalizing people on the basis of their caste and gender (on the basis of mere appearance) shows how deflecting our society is.

Most of us put up posts or amplify voices when a case takes place upon a Dalit woman or a community. We are waiting for something to happen and when that something happens, there is an obvious uproar on social media, news channels, youtube etc but all of it dies down with time and we are onto the next thing.

A lot of us don't even know the amount of death threats, rape threats and harsh experiences Dalit transwomen have had to go through to be where they are today. There are almost null reportage on their cases but that doesn't mean there are not any.

The Dalit community has been in a perpetual battle with the state to create legal frameworks that secures our rights and protects them from the violence meted out to them on account of their position.

Dalit activists are working hard on the legal front, to gain more visibility and respect. More than visibility, all they are asking is for people to understand the nuances of the caste oppressions along with being a man, along with being a woman and along with being a transwoman. Intersectional differences are real differences.


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