Down, but not out!

This graphic is a collage created with key illustrations used in the articles in this month’s issue of ‘Varta’ (November 2017). The long descriptions of each of the illustrations can be found in the respective articles, that is, ‘Cinema, Commerce and Causes”, ‘Government Letdown on Transgender and Intersex Rights Legislation’, ‘PIL in Calcutta High Court to Push for Transgender Rights’, and ‘Voicing Out Stasis in Transgender Lives’. The collage is enclosed in a thought cloud, which is placed on a background with brown colour. Collage credit: Pawan Dhall

Vartanama, Nov '17
Three of the articles in this issue of Varta talk about the continued hardships faced by transgender and intersex people in India. All jab us in the eye at how far we are, as a society, in respecting the same rights that our gender and sexual majorities enjoy, relatively unquestioned.

In PIL in Calcutta High Court to Push for Transgender Rights, Debayan N. Sen explains the purpose of a recent public interest litigation (PIL) filed in Calcutta High Court. The PIL seeks implementation of the most basic directives given by the apex court in its historic April 2014 NALSA judgment on recognizing transgender identities.

Similarly, Voicing Out Stasis in Transgender Lives points out how no significant gains have been made by the transgender communities in West Bengal in spite of the NALSA verdict and the setting up of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board in 2015.

The article Government Letdown on Transgender and Intersex Rights Legislation, based on a statement issued by Sampoorna India, brings it all home as it talks about how the central government has reneged on its promises. Nearly two years of advocating for a comprehensive, inclusive and respectful law to honour the NALSA verdict seem to have come a cropper. Dilli abhi bahut dur hai!

The last word has not been said on this matter though, and surely there will be a fight back to counter this slide in affairs. We will bring you news and analysis as things unfold.

* * *  

In the meantime, a mention must be made of three films that I got to see over the last two days. Suresh Triveni’s Tumhari Sulu had everything to invigorate a tired mind – a nearly perfect blend of comedy, tears and grit to unlock society’s stranglehold on our freedoms. And then last evening, I managed to catch up with ‘Dialogues: Calcutta International LGBT Film & Video Festival 2017’. A big thank you to the film festival organizers (Pratyay Gender Trust, Sappho For Equality and Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan) for screening Peter Greenaway’s feature film Eisenstein in Guanajuato.

Not having known much about the Russian film maestro Sergei Eisenstein beyond faded memories of Battleship Potemkin, this narrative of his Mexican venture to make a film and a sad ending to an intense relationship with his guide Palomino was quite a revelation. Never mind the critiques of the quality of the film.

Finally, there was Debalina’s 18+: Lives, Livings and Journey of Sappho. The name says it all – it is a crucial documentation of an important chapter of Bengal and India’s queer movement histories, almost till date. Congratulations to Sappho For Equality, Debalina and all the contributors to the film!

About the graphic: Collage created by using photographic and graphic creations of Kaushik Gupta, Pawan Dhall and Shubhrajit Roy. Collage credit: Pawan Dhall

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Pawan Dhall

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!

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