Transgender people in this country have a history of marginalisation and criminalisation. The conversation around transgender person’s bodies and ideas of pleasure have been absent. In a new show Sisterhood with Shaili, presented by SheThePeople, we spoke to transwoman and trans rights activist, Trinetra Haldar Gammaraju on the lack of sex positive conversations about bodies of transgender people, and their ideas of pleasure.

Pleasure has always been a taboo word unless it is discussed in the context of male pleasure. Bodies of women and transgender persons have always been reduced to categories that exists for the male gaze. Feminist views of pleasure subverts this idea and advocates for pleasure that is centred around female and transgender persons’ bodies. It normalises the idea of pleasure being desirable of itself and not for anyone else. However, the pleasure gap continues to exist. Does this have to do with how we portray transpeople?

Transwoman Bodies and Popular Culture Depictions

“Something you find in India, in Bollywood, in popular culture is this reduction of a transperson to a joke,” Haldar notes. “One of the biggest disservices in portrayal of trans people is in pornography. Pornography essentially reduces trans people to a fetish. We become a category on a porn website reduced to a certain set of body parts solely for the voyeuristic fetishizing male gaze. That also plays into Bollywood and the portrayal of trans people  in popular culture where we are reduced as sex objects”

Some of this depiction in popular culture is a product of how under-informed we are as a society. Haldar says, “it is necessary to talk about what the society considers to be a eunuch because society sees trans people or women like me as castrated men that we have no sex organ because we have got rid of it and as a result of that we have no sexuality that we have become sexless, physically speaking”.

Also Read: Menstruators: A gender neutral & inclusive term for all our period conversations

Accessing Literature on Queer Sexuality

We need to normalise the idea that conversations around sex and sexuality must be healthy and consensual. This allows the audience to view sex as a pleasurable act without societal stigma attached to it. However, the portrayal of bodies of transgender person fail to find sex positive representation. “One of the biggest reasons why there is misinformation and that gap is because trans people have existed for the longest time from a pathological medical gaze. So trans people become a diagnosis for a doctor to diagnose you as a disease, a pathology. And, as a result, everything accompanying our identity, including our sexuality, our pleasure  is a seen as a part of that unnatural disease”.

Trinetra further adds, “The fact that many of us go through sexual assault also makes it difficult for us to put our narratives out there. That also adds to the lack of information out there”.

Also Read: Is It Right To Deprive Adolescents Of Sexuality Education?

Navigating Sexuality as a Transperson

In a patriarchal world navigating sexuality and vocalising sexual desires continues to be a radical act. This task at hand becomes harder when a transwoman has to navigate their sexuality in a world that does not want to view them or their bodies beyond fetish in porn sites. “It’s always been very difficult to navigate sexuality as a transperson. Because on one hand you have people who hypersexualise you, who have a fetish for you, who have a fetish for someone who they view as neither male or female. On one hand you that kind of attraction towards you. On the other hand, you have the stigma and misinformation that sort of has people staying far away from you. Neither of those things are really the sex positive, healthy kind of experience that you have”.

On the aspect of slowly but surely changing trends of viewing transwoman’s bodies from leans of sex positive desire, Trinetra adds “I would say that things are changing. Tinder for example, did come up with many gender identity options and options to share different sexualities on your profile. But it does not really change the way, I, as a transperson, I am treated”.

Also Read: Labelling Sexual Pleasure As ‘Immoral’ Is Hurting Our Well-being

Why It Matters?

Trinetra, as a blogger and social media influencer is having important conversations around taboo topics of desire and sexuality. There is an urgent need to reframe conversation around pleasure which includes transwomen, gender non-confirming people and women. Informed discussions around the topics of pleasure and desire is the only way forward. An informed conversation that is inclusive, open to sexuality and respects the individual.

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