People who would have shirked, if not abused, eunuchs are now sponsoring them. 18 eunuchs have been working at getting the look right – make-up, ramp walking, draping designer wear, perfecting the pout for photo-shoots. In Mumbai tomorrow the 21st, there is a beauty pageant to select the winner.
In my city, as in many metros of India, the transgender community is finding acceptability among celebrities who are then made to feel very special and are called gay/transgender icons. Would these people associate themselves with the cause if the eunuchs were working in quarries or as domestic helpers?
The problem lies not in having these beauty contests, but that these contests will not highlight the more important issues eunuchs face in law, in society, as human beings.
If it is a man feeling trapped in his body and this is one way to express it, then what about other female tasks that require labour and are not up for a skin-deep show? It also reveals a lack of knowledge about the community. Not all of them feel trapped. There are eunuchs who wish to work in male jobs and be seen as men.
Someone has rubbished patriarchy because a man who gives birth to a eunuch is considered less of a man. This argument forgets that there is a woman who has been part of the process in a far more significant manner; it is her womb that held the baby and it is she who gave birth. Such women get branded and are shunned much more, especially in small towns and rural areas. They are also branded as witches. That is the reason the child is either discarded or taken away by hijra tolis (eunuch groups).
I am not surprised that some film stars are part of this pageant and the mayor of the city will judge the contest. Will any of them have the courage to recommend the winner to a film producer for a mainstream role, since they are mimicking women and are the prettiest of the lot? Will the mayor accept any of the participants in her office as a senior level employee, if she is educated enough? Will the designers use them as models in fashion shows without any emphasis on their gender? No. Even though they want ‘un-womanly’ women to hang their clothes on, they will not let transgenders become one of them.
This is, unfortunately, one more high society farce. It is worse than the hijra dances people watch and give money to as a gesture to ward off any evil. There is more honesty in this. One stereotype replacing another is not a solution.
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A eunuch song from a Bollywood film