by NEWSNER , 2021-04-12 12:44:26
In a monumental breakthrough for the trans community, Manipur’s first Transgender Women’s Grievance Cell, under the aegis of the Manipur State Commission for ladies was opened on April 9, 2021. The brainchild of prominent trans rights activist, Santa Khurai, the first-of-its-kind initiative in Manipur will play an important role in protecting transwomen against everyday transphobia, and can also go an extended way in eradicating structural and institutionalised discrimination against them.
While Manipur features a Transgender Welfare Board instituted in 2017, it hasn’t been functional for a few time now and wasn’t effective in creating actionable change and benefitting the community. Given this, during a recent public hearing held by the State Commission for ladies to debate gender policy in Manipur, Santa Khurai attended to debate the problems concerning transgender women, especially the intersection of disadvantages that indigenous transgender women face, and therefore the challenges that still plague the community.
Khurai’s participation within the hearing led to the chairperson, Dr Binota Meinam, of the State Commission of girls suggesting Khurai submit a draft proposal that recommends initiatives and changes necessary to facilitate the mainstreaming of trans rights within the state. This draft proposal, aside from the incorporation of the Transgender Women’s Grievance Cell, also suggested the launch of schemes benefitting the trans community, improved healthcare access, and therefore the inclusion of trans narratives in educational curriculums to mainstream the experiences of the community.
This draft proposal was also introduced within the state assembly and therefore the other recommendations in it are likely to be a reality very soon. But the Grievance Cell is that the very initiative therein direction, and consistent with Santa Khurai, an important one. Santa Khurai will head the Cell, alongside Bonita Pebam, Roro Khumanthem, and Zen Pui.
The Grievance Cell also will be instrumental in helping transwomen within the state access and navigate the judicial and enforcement systems. Legal Advisors of the Cell will help transwomen navigate legal solutions and supply legal advice. This makes legal remedies and litigation accessible for trans women by making an otherwise long, expensive, and sometimes unnavigable, process simpler and cost-free. This exposes the chance to pursue criminal and civil proceedings against the violence and discrimination trans persons face, which frequently goes unreported thanks to various socio-economic reasons, and also thanks to the pervasive and institutionalised transphobia of enforcement and court systems.
Santa Khurai may be a Manipuri indigenous Nupi Maanbi (transwoman), writer, artist, and maybe a prominent trans rights activist. She is additionally the secretary of the All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association and a consultant at SAATHII, Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India. Khurai recently filed a first-of-its-kind writ before the Supreme Court against blood donation guidelines that prohibit trans persons, gay men, and sex workers from donating blood. Speaking of the necessity for visibility and more spaces for trans persons, Khurai said, ‘When people mention gender equality, the problems trans persons are faced with are often overlooked. The community is isolated, largely thanks to its under-representation in mainstream dialogue. The transgender community has many stories, stories of despair, of hope. But they are going unheard.’
On the topic of the invisibilisation of transwomen in feminist and women’s spaces and the way this initiative can change that, she added, ‘Why don’t transwomen have an area within feminist circles and among women folk? Our bodies are a site of violence, of sexism, and that’s very true for trans bodies. With this initiative, especially given the very fact that State Commission for ladies is backing it, a path towards the visualisation and mainstreaming of trans narratives are going to be paved, and this may hopefully explain that inclusion in feminist and women’s circles can't be limited to biology.’
Manipur’s Transgender Women’s Grievance Cell will afford transwomen social and legal protections which will go an extended way in protecting them against the rampant transphobia that's institutionalised and structural, transphobia that results in discrimination every single day and violence against trans persons. The incredible work of Santa Khurai and therefore the trans community and the tireless support of Dr Binota Meinam, the chairperson of the Manipur State Commission for ladies, has finally caused the mainstreaming of trans rights. Trans persons in India still be subjected to transphobia and therefore the discrimination and violence emanating therewith, and there's little or no legislation or institutional safeguards to guard them, their rights, or their lives. It’s time that changes; it’s time trans narratives are amplified; it's time our policy, institutions, and spaces are truly trans-inclusive; and this initiative is progress therein direction.