The gender dialogue featured prominently in 2019. From progressive movements to transgender people finding space as professors, politicians and even as goodwill ambassadors for the Election Commission, it has clearly been a year of breaking boundaries for the LGBTQIA community in India.
We profile some of those who pushed the envelope and opened our minds a little more.
It’s definitely been a year for the LGBTQIA movement and the gender dialogue has assumed new contours in our country. DC speaks to the country’s most prominent LGBTQIA voices.
Rachana Mudraboyina is a noted transgender activist from Hyderabad who recently recorded a song for Rajinikanth’s Darbar. The YouTube channel TransVision is her brainchild. She says, “We have struggled since the 2014 NALSA judgment [when the Supreme Court declared transgender people to be a third gender and granted them extensive rights and protection] to bring to the forefront the struggles of transgender people. Various advocacy activities and protests happened till The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill became an Act in 2019. Because of the visibility of the movement there have been a lot of changes in the Act. 2019 has been a year of visibility for Trans struggles and many Members of Parliament have started speaking about Trans rights. We hope to continuously work to bring about more changes.”
On the same subject, Madhumitha Gomathinayagam, India’s First Transgender HR Professional and social activist says, “The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, is not accepted by the majority of the Transgender community as it was prepared and executed by non-community people without consulting us. We are expecting an inclusive and diversified 2020 for everyone’s welfare.”
2019 saw many Indian organizations trying to sensitize their employees to live and work inclusively regardless of an individual’s sexual orientation and identity.
Parmesh Shahani, Head of Godrej India Culture Lab, has been advocating LGBTQIA-inclusive workplaces. “I have been sharing the Godrej Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian workplace and spent the past year writing a book - Queeristan - where I document my own journey in corporate India and the steps that companies can take to become more inclusive. The book will be published in early 2020.”
Anubhuti Banerjee, Manager of IT Customer Relationship Management at TATA Steel feels that in 2019, “From focused hiring and job fairs for LGBTQIA individuals, to covering their stories and appointing Queer people at positions of authority, many companies took major steps in making the workplaces of today and tomorrow more welcoming. Although there is a long way to go, the progress seems very encouraging.” Tata Steel for its part came up with a progressive and comprehensive policy for LGBTQIA individuals and same-sex partners.
For equal rights activist Harish Iyer, “Gender is not always personal, it is intersectional. 2019 saw gender oppression at its worst but it will be remembered for how people reclaimed it”, he says.