Sangama, a human rights organisation that works for the benefit of sexuality minorities, organised a ‘Lesbian, bisexual women, female to male transgender advocacy programme’ to bring out the various problems faced by female sexuality minorities, here on Wednesday.

The programme addressed the difficulties faced by lesbian couples, the social insecurities of sexuality minorities, etc. A documentary showcasing the trials and tribulations of a lesbian couple was also screened. “Society, parents included, views homosexuality as a sin. They fail to understand that love is natural and that it is not bound by religion, age or even gender,” said Gayathri, a Sangama volunteer.

“I was born female. As I grew up, my body underwent several changes and I started looking more like a man. It was not my fault; but people are very hostile to me. I am often asked hurtful questions once I start conversing. I can never continue in one job. I find it very hard to make ends meet because of this,” said Selvam, a woman transgender from Chennai.

Most transgender women, who attended the programme, had similar grievances. “I was thrown out of school in class eight because of my physical changes. Even the Church ostracised me, as they felt that other girls would get influenced by me. No one supported me and I was forced to leave home at the age of 14,” shared Christy Raj.

Christy complained of being subjected to public harassment every day. “People pass comments when I travel by bus. They do not allow me to sit in the ladies or in the gents’ seat. It is so difficult for people like me to rent a house. We are asked to pay double rent as compared to ‘normal’ people.”

Many spoke about how hurt and isolated they felt when their family and friends failed to understand their plight. “No one makes an attempt to understand our feelings. We are always forced to change for society but society does nothing for us,” said Bharathi, the project manager of Sangama.

Mental health concerns

“A person should possess both physical and mental health to feel healthy. People from these communities find it difficult to share their secrets with their friends or family members because they find no one they can trust,” pointed out Sharadha B.N., a psychiatric counsellor. She advised the participants to be strong and protest against harassment. Advocate B.T. Venkatesh, who was present, expressed similar views. “Society is harsh on all of us. We should all try to be independent and stop being victimised,” he said.

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