A 500 metre rainbow flag to be carried by several women from villages of Bihar, is expected to be one of the main attractions of a procession that celebrates the diversity and range of sexual identities in Bihar. It’s possible that the Bihar Gaurav March (Bihar Pride Parade) may have far more heterosexual than LGBTIQ people, and that will probably make it a very unique parade.
“We are here and we want everyone to know that we also exist and possess an identity”, affirms Reshma Prasad, a 28-year-old trans woman activist on the upcoming first Bihar Pride Parade in Patna. It is slated for July 14, 2019- International Non-Binary People’s Day.
It is to be noted that in the last five years, Trans pride has taken only twice in Bihar owing to lack of resources and unwillingness of LGBTIQ oriented to be visible. The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer. After reading down of Article 377 by Supreme Court which decriminalizes same sex intercourse, this year the Bihar Pride Parade will be ‘the new dawn of celebrating pride in being truly oneself’ without the fear of any legalities and social abuse.
Reshma Prasad says, “There is need to educate and sensitize people about who we are and we seek to put our presence felt in front of the people. Through this parade, we want to make people aware about what different sexuality orientations are and break the stereotypes regarding the identity of transgender.”
After the reading down of Article 377, Prasad feels that no concrete change can be seen in society regarding the discrimination sexuality minorities especially transgender people . She says, “Within the community only there is some sort of relief (post 377) but concrete change in our status can only be seen after the social acceptance.”
There are a lot of challenges still lying ahead after reading down of IPC 377. She asks that if police are aware of this fact, whether the implementation of respective laws and Supreme Court judgment is being executed properly or not and what about such old cases on LGBTs which are still pending- they have not been still taken into account. The Supreme Court Judgment on transgender in 2015 giving them the space of third gender still have unanswered questions like how will the mainstreaming of transgenders take place.
She also takes on the conservative approach of educational institutions and education policy of India. She questions, “Have you ever seen any teacher telling students about who are LGBTs or talking about sexuality, gender identity or freedom.”
Status of sex education in our education policy is in bad shape. In the new education policy, the words- Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual have not even got the space. Only they have talked about transgender education only. She says that in school there should be no such concept like transgender education. They should talk of “gender non-conforming”.
After achieving 18 years of age, one should disclose the preference of sexuality and before 18, the gender should be non-conforming. There is a need of teacher training model, criteria of pronunciation by which one refers to other person to bring reform in education.
There is need of reservation for transgender as per the level of community presence and flexibility in criteria. Prasad says, “Since we belong to such excluded part of the society which is in very pathetic state, we must be given some sort of flexibility in job and educational opportunities. Since the beginning neither we got the quality education nor quality life, then how can one expect us to be on the same page like others in terms of skill and eligibility.”
The government must think of holistic approach for the welfare of our community. If they run any skill based programme then it must be apprentice based so that one can get the job. Moreover, if anyone comes with their gender identity after getting job or education, will they be given proper residential facility like others? Since the government seeks to promote female education giving free education, likewise does the government think on the same horizon for the promotion of transgender education. These aspects are very crucial to bring quality as well as equality to our status.
Prasad recommends that the government can identify the places where transgender people can be easily given access to jobs . She says that no transgender would opt to seek alms on Railway trains if there were employment opportunities as sanitation workers or vendors given to the Hijra community. Efforts in these directions have been negligible in Bihar till date.
Reshma Prasad through the upcoming Bihar Pride Parade on 14th July is hopeful of a new dawn in the history of LGBTQ and will achieve a space where “your freedom should neither breach my freedom nor my freedom breach yours”.
Ravi Ranjan is in the process of completion of his post graduate studies in Media Production