God has created human beings as equal without any discrimination as to their skill power, will power, grasping power, intellect, etc., but is the human beings who discriminates and misuses the abuse human being and treat them as objects and the fault lies only on the selfish nature of the human beings.
Usually, if they are male, they don’t think about it much. It feels normal. And, for most girls, it feels very natural to be female. But that’s not true for everyone. Transgender people who were born male feel they should be female, and transgender people who were born female feel they should be male. People who are transgender feel like they are living inside a body that’s all wrong for them. They often say they feel “trapped in someone else’s body.” Most people’s gender identity matches their anatomy. But people who are transgender feel different from their physical appearances.
Transgender people are individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the biological sex they were born into. The word transgender is an umbrella term which is used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including: female-to-male and male-to-female sex reassigned persons, but also cross-dressers, drag queens, drag kings, gender queers, and many more.
Most transgender people, especially youth, face great challenges in coming to terms with one’s own gender identity and/or gender expression which are opposite to that of the gender identity and gender role imposed on them on the basis of their biological sex. They face several issues such as: shame, fear, and internalized transphobia; disclosure and coming out; adjusting, adapting, or not adapting to social pressure to conform; fear of relationships or loss of relationships; and self-imposed limitations on expression or aspirations.
The term ‘transgender’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘trans’ and the English word ‘gender’. Different sorts of individuals come under this category. No particular form of sexual orientation is meant through the term transgender. The way they behave and act differs from the ‘normative’ gender role of men and women. Leading a life as a transgender is far from easy because such people can be neither categorized as male nor female and this deviation is “unacceptable” to society’s vast majority. Trying to take out a dignified living is even worse.
Transgenders in India
Hijras in India have a very rich religious-cultural historical background. In India,they were treated as demi-gods. People believe that hijras have blessing and cursing power and hence give respect to them. People are also hijraphobic because of the belief that they might get cursed if they don’t give money to hijras. In Tamil Nadu hijras are known as Aravani. The meaning of the term “Aravani” means a person who worships Lord Aravan. The story of Lord Aravan is mentioned in the great epic Mahabharatha. There is not much difference between hijra and aravani people. The only visible difference that can be observed is the cultural difference. Hijra
group is a closed community and the main professions are begging, dancing and prostitution. Aravani people are also engaged in similar profession but they lead more individual and independent life.
The other categories that do not identify themselves as hijra or aravani fall under the transgender umbrella. For example: transsexuals, transvestite, drag queen, transgendered people etc. fall under the transgender umbrella.Recently, a private member’s Bill protected and providing rights for transgender was passed by the Raja Sabha on April 2014. The Bill also guarantees reservation in education and job, financial aid and social inclusion this is the first time in 45 years that a private member’s Bill has been passed by the Raja Sabha. The Right Transgender Persons Bill 2014 provides for creation of welfare boards at the Centre and state level for the community. Transgender Rights Courts, two percent reservation in government jobs and prohibits discrimination in employment. It also makes provisions for pensions and unemployment allowances for members of the community.
Transgender in Tamil Nadu
Transgender people are called as Thirunar, Thirunangai for Male to Female Transgender people and Thirunambi for Female to Male Transgender people. The term Aravaani in Tamil was widely popularized before 1990’s which is a substitute term for Hijra in India and visible male to female transgenders i.e. thirunangai are often discriminated against in jobs forcing them to resort to begging and prostitution.
Thirunangai’s (MTF) meet in Koovagam, a village in the Ulundurpet taluk in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May) for an annual festival, which takes place for fifteen days. They also meet in Coimbatore singanallur Koothandavar temple and Madurai reserve line Maariyamman Temple festival where they offer Mullapaari (sacred millets and grains) to mother goddess. Tamil Nadu has an estimated population of more than 30,000 transgender people. It has made great strides in trying to integrate transgender people into society.
Problem faced by transgender in Tamil Nadu
Discrimination – Transgender are discriminated in the society in all lifestyles. In public places like bus stations, railways stations, theatres, temples, schools,colleges, universities, corporate offices, malls, beaches and even in public toilets,transgender are offended or abused.
• Employment – Due to poverty, discrimination, and lack of skills, many transgender have no choice of livelihood. They engage in sex work and begging.Even if an organization employs them, they were offered only very low income jobs. Some transgender accept it, but their economic needs pressurize them to leave these jobs and once again engage in begging and sex work.
• Education – 90% of transgender do not complete even their secondary school education. Their academic knowledge is poor. Because of this reason, they are offered only very low income jobs.
• Homelessness – Homelessness is one of the major problems of transsexual people. When a transgender person ‘comes out’ to his or her parents, almost always, they were pushed out of their homes. Sometimes, unable to bear the violence and abuse from the family, they run away from home in search of people like them. If they were accepted by other Thirunangai family, they were lucky and can be a part of the family and live in their homes. Otherwise, they have to find a rented house. The public do not give their rented homes to transsexual people.Because of the fear, hatred and misconceptions about the lifestyle of transsexual people, almost 95% (Irom Gunachandra Singh, 2011) of the house owners turn down transgender people. There are some people who give their houses for rent to transsexual people. They charge enormous advance money and monthly rent which the transsexual person cannot afford to pay. In places like Chennai, almost all the transsexual women live in the slums. Transsexual women were poor and
marginalized and they were accepted in slums as people who struggle for living, understand and accept transgender than anybody else.
• HIV Care & Hygiene – In many private health care clinics and in government clinics, the discrimination still exists in treating a transgender patient. A transsexual woman may not be addressed properly in the gender that she identifies, and may not be treated with dignity. Medical fraternity still needs to completely understand the transgender community issues and treat them with respect and dignity, Transgender people, who are into sex work, do not practice hygienic activities. Though they insist their clients to use condoms, and protect themselves and their clients from HIV/STD, they were still prone to getting other diseases like skin diseases because of lack of hygienic practices. This is a serious health problem. Transgender need to be seriously sensitized on hygienic practices.
• Depression – Many transsexual people have a low self-esteem and self-worth because of their difficult childhood. Many of them had been driven out or flee from their homes in teens and early twenties. These people were mistreated wherever they went, wherever they choose to work. The verbal and physical abuse, the insults from people, the constant threat and danger from the rowdies and other sexual perverted men make them depressed. This is also one of the main reasons why transsexual people turn to alcohol for solace and happiness.
• Tobacco & Alcohol Abuse – Many transsexual women has been found to be using tobacco in various forms. They were addicted to tobacco because of depression, loneliness and insecurity. Consumption of alcohol is also found among many transsexual people. This is usually found among sex workers who wanted to get rid of their fears when they met their clients. Many sex workers among the transsexual community desperately need treatment to avoid tobacco and alcohol and need counseling help.
• Marriage & Adoption – Transsexual women and men should have the right to marry, adopt children and be entitled to all legal protections that non-transgender people are entitled to. Presently in India, there is no legislation to regulate transsexual people’s marriages. It is important that an amendment be introduced in marriage laws.
• Aging – Aging is a severe problem for the poor transsexual women. These senior citizens are not accepted in the Homes for the Aged. They mostly live with transgender women’s families of Jamaths. They cannot go for begging because of their age. They depend on the young people in the family for survival. Though the young transsexuals respect the seniors, they may not be able to help older transsexual women fully. Many old community members are diabetic and have high or low blood pressure.
Major findings by study
Majority (25%) of the transgender are belonging to BC and MBC caste.
The transgender youth have a minimum (65%) educational qualification starting
from higher secondary.
About 47.5 % of the respondents are living with their community.
About 30% of total respondents are left with beggary and receiving alms from others and about 42.5% of the respondents are working in project and documentation work of NGO.
Self-employment is the primary choice of transgender youth as 50 % of the total respondents are self-employed. Followed by, third sector – NGO’s are giving livelihood options as 37.5 % of the respondents are chosen NGOs as their present occupation.
Majority (52.5%) of the total respondents are leading their life with mere less than Rs. 4000 /- per month. The 42.5% of the respondents’ families are not accepting their family member becoming a transgender because it unduly affects other members of the family in their society. About 30% of the respondents felt that they are neglected by their family as their conversation into transgender is perceived as a shame by the family and relatives.
Majorities (52.5%) of the initial reaction of parents are expulsion from home and they are isolated from the family and the society. The parents only concerned about their child transition into transgender but not their child.
When emotionally down in their life, the majority (60%) of the respondents are sharing their feelings predominantly with their peer group.
In this study reveals that among the all forms of abuse reported by the respondents, verbal abuse (75%) followed by physical abuse (55%) are high compared to other forms of abuses.
Verbal abuse is the prevalent form of abuse among Scheduled Caste (9) group followed by Other Backward Class (8)
Majority of the respondents’ informed verbal abuse as the frequent form of abuse whereas (22) respondents mentioned that physical abuse as the second prevalent form of abuse
Majority of the total respondents (22) experienced verbal abuse and it is higher among transgender who have been working in NGOs sector.
About (67.5%) Transgender experience frequent perpetuation of abuses such as sexual, physical, emotional and verbal abuses from general public.
About 40% respondents are not aware of their support system.
The (37.5 %) of the respondents are neglected either in educational and work
Majority (48%) of the respondents having low level of coping with emotions.
(32) Scores of the respondents are highlighting that they have an average and low levels of coping with emotions.
Higher frequency of respondents (8) who are working in NGOs having low level of coping with emotions whereas five persons score informed that they have average level of coping with emotions and just one person has high level of coping with emotions.
Majority (27) of the total respondents from the both age groups i.e. 15 – 22 years and 23 – 30 years are having an average level of coping with stress.
Irrespective of the community, more than half of the total respondents (27) are having average level of coping with stress.
Self-employed transgender (15) are reportedly having an average level of coping with stress than other category of respondents.
Majority (25) respondents irrespective of age, educational qualification and category of occupation, the transgender have shown average level of problem solving strategies.
Level of cognitive restructuring is going high as the age increases as four respondents in the age group of 23 – 30 years and one respondent in the age group of 15 – 22 years are having high level of cognitive restructuring as their coping strategy
The (5) respondents are completed higher secondary students are having comparatively higher cognitive restructuring
Majority (10) self-employed respondents have reportedly had low cognitive restructuring whereas transgender working in NGOs found to be having high cognitive restructuring.
Majority (21) of the total respondents reportedly having high level of expression of emotions as their dominant coping strategy.
Eight respondents of age group 15 – 22 years and ten respondents of age group of 23 – 30 years are having an average level of social support as their coping strategy.
The (14) respondents are having lower social support as per the educational qualification.
The (22) respondents are having low level of social support and 18 of the respondents are having average level of social support as per the category of occupation.The (26) respondents are having high level of problem avoidance strategies in terms of age group of 15-30.
The one third of the respondents having low level of wishful thinking and more than half of the respondents (26) are having average level of wishful thinking strategy as per the age group.
Majority (28) of the respondents is self-employed and NGOs occupations of the respondents are having average level of self-criticism strategies.
The 16 of the respondents of age group 23-30 are having high level of social withdrawal.
Majority (20) of the respondents are completed higher secondary having high level of social withdrawal as coping strategies.
The (28) of the respondents in the study area having a high level of social withdrawal by considering the self-employed, NGOs, private sector occupation and prostitution.
Total eight coping strategies the high mean value 2.68 indicate social withdrawal factor influencing transgender youth and low mean value 1.45 indicate social support factor influencing transgender youth.
Health care facility and mental health counseling Centre should be provided for the transgender.
Training and awareness programmes like skill development, employability skills,vocational and life skills and personality development training should be provided to them.
There need to be concrete measures and mechanisms to promote and protect their rights.
Transgender should be given equal rights to express their thoughts, expression and freedom of speech in the society.
The two percent reservation in government job should be implementing as much as possible among transgender community. Transgender students, school psychologists can implement coping strategies and make recommendations for school-wide changes to promote positive development for all students.
More research studies should be supported in order to gain refined understanding of their psycho-social issues.
Finally Parents should not discriminate the transgender and should take special care of them and treat them normally, so that they would be able to live in their respective families with dignity.
This is the first study which depicted the level of coping strategies of transgender which conducted in Chennai. Transgender youth are diverse and are represented across demographic variables, including their sexual orientations. They face considerable health and well-being disparities especially with coping strategies. It is important to address the challenging environments these youth face and to increase access to responsive services for transgender youth. However, they also need to be trained in coping with emotions and stress as these predominantly contribute for their mental health issues. The findings of this study suggest the need for practitioners to focus on different interventions that reduce psycho-social problems of transgender while increasing social support, employment opportunity and overall development for transgender youth. It helps them to understand their own self and motivates them to come forward in society.