Transgenders speak for their rights at a film screening

"Celebrations andfanfare at Koovagamfestival isjust one happyday in a year in the life of atransgender. What aboutthe suffering we undergoduring the remaining 364days?" asks Padmini, atransgender.

A dancer and the winnerof Miss. Koovagam titlethis year, she also fights forthe rights of transgendersas secretary of Thaai VizhudhugalTrust.

"Awareness on the thirdgender should reach theyouth in schools and collegesand parents. Our soulis that of a woman trappedin a man's body. We havean identify as a third genderand we want to be respected,"she told theaudience at a recentscreening of Santosh Sivan'snational award winningdocumentaryNavarasa, which put thespotlight on transgenders.And, they turned out ingood numbers to voicetheir woes at the interactionorganised by CinemaClub of Coimbatore at KasturiSreenivasan Trustauditorium.

The story

The film revolves aroundthe story of a young girlShweta who sets on a journeyto Koovagam festivalto bring her uncle Gautamback. He runs away to marrythe deity Aravan at thefestival. Along the journeyshe gets a peek into the wayof life of a transgender andtheir culture.

Bobby darling, actor inBollywood, brings out thesadness and strugglesfaced by transgenders bynarrating her story toSwetha. When a documentaryfilm-maker in the movieasks why they make anuisance in public placesand harasses people ontrains. Revathy, a transgenderreplies: "It is frustrationon the society," andasks "Have you been beatenup your brother in acricket bat?" "I'm a Hindu,my husband is a Christianand my mother-in-law followsIslam. We live in harmonyand follow religiousunity," says another transgender.Their request - letus live in peace.

Transgenders whowatched the film say itfailed to highlight their issues."Society includingparents, relatives andfriends abandon us and illtreatus," says 55-year-oldMadhana from Ukkadam,who makes a living as a caterer.She, along with agroup of 10 transgenderswork as caterers and live asone big family.

"We feel every bit awoman. So, we love to plaitour hair, wear flowers andwear skirts. And, that'swhen the problem beginsat homes. Films shouldcreate awareness amongparents to accept a transgenderchild," they add.

Issues on lack of a thirdgender column in applicationforms were also discussed.Artist Jeevacommented the film as avisually appealing docudrama that failed to capturethe emotional traumaof transgenders. Ammayyappa,a 15-minute documentaryby Saveetha ofCinema Club portrayed thelives of transgenders Pattu,Mayil and Jeevatha inKoundampalayam and discussedsociety related issuesand their votingrights. Deepan's short-film`Thirunangai' used cameraas a character (transgender)to record one day inthe life of a transgender.