India’s First ever Transgender Athletics meet in Kerala

“Why do you run like a woman? This was a common question encountered by many of us and the fear of mockery forces us to stay away from sports days in schools and colleges. Even though we have made our presence felt in the cultural spaces and showcased our talents like in mimicry, dance, mono act and so on, we were never given a platform to explore and experience our skills in sports until now. This event will be a revival of dreams for many including me,” said 25-year-old Shyama

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A man holding a poster ' spread love' to raise awareness for transgender community , VOA

Kerala, April 29, 2017: An exclusive athletic meet for transgender community of the nation was organised in Thiruvanathpuram on 28 april 2017 for the upliftment of the community and encouraging them to step in for their rights.

Fear of being ridiculed in the locker rooms, Constantly having to remind coaches and fellow teammates about their preferred way of addressing them, being mocked at for their demeanour by the opposing team members, the disgusted faces and the awkward moments, the feeling of being pushed into a corner-  Freaked out, depressed and frustrated. Having an intense passion for sports but no proper channel to pursue it…

Being a part of school or college teams and competing in various sporting events was never easy for the many people who identify themselves as transgenders. The fear of neglect from the society has always affected them to reveal their true identities.

Even though there are many issues related to LGBT rights that needs our attention, but in present, their rights are being acknowledged by the society and many people, including the central government, are taking initiatives to run campaigns for their rights.

One such step was taken by Kerala government to encourage the trangerder community was by organising the first ever athletic meet in the country.

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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the one-day event at the Central Stadium of Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. The logo for the event was released by veteran athlete Mercy Kuttan here on Wednesday. The event saw the participation of 200 transgenders from across the state.

“We have more than 20 participants from each district except from Wayanad, Idukki and Alappuzha from where only less than 10 participants have registered for the sports meet,” event co-ordinator Anil Arjunan told TOI. The event had been organised to stop the social stigma surrounding Transgenders as well as calling them names such as Hijra, eunuch etc. The event lined up 100, 200 and 400 metres sprints, 4 x 100 metres relay, long jump and shot put contest.

“I had been selected in the state team for 400m relay at the age of 15. In the years that followed, I had to take a back seat from such sports events due to persistent social stigma. After these many years, I am so excited to participate in a sports meet. This time, I am going to try my luck in short put,” said Sreekutty, a transgender.

Shyama S, another transgender, who has just completed her MEd finds this platform as a great opportunity for everyone in her community. “Why do you run like a woman? This was a common question encountered by many of us and the fear of mockery forces us to stay away from sports days in schools and colleges. Even though we have made our presence felt in the cultural spaces and showcased our talents like in mimicry, dance, mono act and so on, we were never given a platform to explore and experience our skills in sports until now. This event will be a revival of dreams for many including me,” said 25-year-old Shyama to TOI, who was also a member of the organising committee.

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The organising committee included chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the chief patron, minister for sports and youth affairs A C Moideen, tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran, V S Sivakumar MLA and mayor V K Prasanth as other patrons.

Kerala has always been in the forefront when it comes to embracing the transgender community. India’s first transgender school, ‘Sahaj International’ was opened last December in Kochi to help students of the community continue their education. But being a transgender is still considered a taboo in the society. They face many challenges and have a long way to go in battling with the society for securing an equal place. However, times are changing and such initiatives by the government do speak about India’s progressive attitude towards gender and its efforts for building an egalitarian society.

People belonging to transgender community face many challenges and have a long way to go in battling with the society for securing an equal place. However, times are changing and such initiatives by the government do speak about India’s progressive attitude towards gender and its efforts for building an egalitarian society.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6