In an effort to change the popular perceptions and get rid of the stigma, the transgender (TG) community came together to organise a three-day festival — Mupperum Vizha —which started at Gandhi Museum on Friday.

Theatre artiste and writer Living Smile Vidya, who is a transgender, said that the popular perceptions are that all TGs involve themselves in sex work or beggary. But things have changed in the last decade with the help of many non-governmental organisations which helped them come out of the closet and fight for their right.

“We need icons from the community, a film maker, an IAS officer so that we can take our fight vigorously towards social, economic and cultural liberation. Real change comes only when our families accept us,” says Vidya.

Discussing her personal experience, Vidya told The Hindu that, it was not an easy journey as there were many obstacles before she could make it as a theatre artiste.

But, Vidya is strong in her decision to don only roles as politically conscious women which was her chosen gender category.

Vidya welcomes parties like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam giving party posts to TGs and demanded that major parties should follow suit. Her book ‘Mella Vilagum Panithirai’ was released on Tuesday by Jacintha Martin, Sub-Judge, District Legal Services Authority.

Documentary filmmaker and writer Bharathi Krishnakumar in his address said that progressive thinkers and believers in democratic values should come forward and be part of efforts to change the perceptions about TGs.

In order to eliminate discrimination, advocates felt the need for attempts to raise consciousness about the nature of gender identity, the effects of prejudice and issues that gender identity raises in spaces like bathroom use, identification cards and dress code.

The event was organised by a trust functioning in the name of Bharathi Kannamma, a transgender who is based in Madurai.

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