Gender Diversity fair in Madurai

Kalki Subramaniam
Gender activist John
Kalki Subramaniam & Gender activist John  with the principal & the vice principal

Gender and sexuality issues has been widely discussed in recent times, since thedecriminalization of IPC 377, The rising consciousness of gender and sexuality isan indicator of the rising importance of gender and sexuality issues. The American college located in Madurai is a pioneer in raising the need of awareness for gender and sexuality issues. The Department of Religion-Philosophy and Sociology – “REPHISO” conducted India’s first Gender Diversity Fair a seminar cum interactive session on March, 29th on gender and sexuality diversity issues. It will be ofits first kind in India, to discuss the genders apart from men, women and transwomen to include the issues of other 20 genders like transmen, pangender, agender,androgyny, genderfluid, crossdressers,bigender,trigender,neutrois,epicene,demigirl and demiguy, girlfags and guydykes and numerous other gender varieties and even the other diversities of sexuality including pansexuals, asexual, polysexuals etc which are even unaware within the mainstream LGBTQ community itself.The seminar stressed on various issues of the diverse people of gender identity and sexual identity in sociological, philosophical, scientific and religious views.

The Principal & Secretary of the American College inaugurated the fair & delivered welcome address he said ” The government, educationists and social activists should put an effort together and the change should start from the education system.” he insists that gender and sexuality education should be part of the main syllabus in high school and college. “People are ignorant about the existence of various genders and sexuality,” he says. “And due to this, for over a century, queer community have undergone a lot of ill-treatment and abuse.”

Students & faculties during the seminar
more than 300 students attented the interactive session on Gender Diversity
 The mainsession was conducted by the renowned transgender activist, Kalki Subramaniam, founder of Sahodari, a organization dedicatedfor the issues of transgenders. She had conducted more than 80 seminars inforeign and national universities on gender issues. Moreover she was therepresentative of the United Nations program on gender issues from India. IVLPguest for United States from India, she is an actress, writer, speaker too  she says “All we want is love, respect and dignity but when it is not given to us we tend to become rebels.” Being a member of the community she advocates for, Kalki herself faced social discrimination and abuse, yet she has gone past it. She acted in the art film “Narthagi”, and she proudly announced her next project. “I have signed up for a Malayalam commercial film for the female lead role.” A transgender woman acting in a mainstream film is a positive sign, but Kalki’s expedition doesn’t stop here. There are still many misconceptions about LGBT people, she said. “Our objective is to change the view and notions of the society, We aim to build a world based on equality, reciprocity, and interdependence, where people are free to express their sexuality as part of their broader human rights. Towards this aim, we advocate for policy change around issues of gender and sexuality, create spaces for people to begin to talk and think critically about the politics of gender and sexuality, and build links with other social movements. We work through active, teachers, parents, workers- who empower themselves and each other through dialogue and sharing.

&  John Marshal,Director Srishti Madurai, Coimbatore, a organization dedicated for the LGBTQ issues had presented second session on diversities of gender started the session with a question “Do you know that there are nearly 20 different types of genders other than male and female? Gender activist John, explained. “Generally the terms gender, sexuality and sex are taken to be the same. But they all mean different things,” he says. “Sex is a biological definition and gender is the self identity and also the sociocultural and behavioral perception, while sexuality refers to the sexual attraction towards a particular sex.”

Referring to various indications of alternative sexuality in the scriptures, he said, “Alternative gender or sexuality is not unnatural. It’s very much natural like the usual man and woman genders and heterosexuality.” that even within the mainstream LGBT community, the existence of these many genders is largely unknown. “Some forms of genders don’t even have a proper word in the dictionary and we have coined terms both in Tamil and English for a few,”.

Prof. Dr. J. Aruldoss, Vice-Principal & Head of the Department of Religion, Philosophy & Sociology delivered vote of thanks & ended the fair he thanked Kalki & John ” he said” Well, India is said to be a country of rich diversity and we learn that Indians are proud of “unity in diversity”. But where this “unity in diversity “shrinks out, when come to the discussion of sexuality and gender? Why we are still reluctant to accept the wide diversity in sexuality and gender and celebrate those identities?

Think what happens if people who possessing wider diversity of sexual and gender orientation are compelled to hide their true identity and allowed to marry a person who not suits for them? so respect everyone as human. he enkindleth students towards to do research on such tasks to bring a social change.

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