Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju: Using Social Media To Champion Transgender Rights

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Who is Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju: A surgeon by training, Dr Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju has been using the power social media to break stigmas around the transgender community in India. She has been very vocal about the fetishisation of transwomen, how it is difficult for the members of the community to find social acceptance and discuss sexuality and the offline and online about transgender people face for doing so.

Gummaraju herself faced immense trolling for sharing her experiences as a transwoman in India. She was called names and abused verbally for sharing images of herself before and after undergoing gender confirmation surgery (GCS). But Gummaraju has braved the regressive commentary and successfully started a conversation on how India needs to change its gaze towards the transgender community.

Who is Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju

Born as Angad Gummaraju to a couple based in Bengaluru, Trinetra is the first transgender doctor in the state of Karnataka. She never really thought of herself as a boy from an early age. “I’d wear Maa’s saree, put on her makeup & parade around the house. Initially, everyone found it cute, but when they saw this ‘phase’ go on for longer than expected, they hid these items from me, saying, ‘You’re too old for this,” she revealed to Humans of Bombay last year.

Trinetra said that being referred to as a boy felt like a burden even at that age of five and she fell prey to conditioned upbringing. While her parents encourages her to pursue more “masculine” activities, she faced abuse at the hands of her classmates while growing up. Her journey to discover her gender identity was not an easy one. “Even when I realised I liked men, I assumed I was a gay man, but somehow the idea that I must be a ‘man’ didn’t feel right.”

However, after getting admission at a private medical college she found herself on the path of self-discovery. In 2018 Gummaraju underwent hormone replacement therapy, followed by a GCS in 2019. Gummaraju chose to chronicle her transformation on Instagram and YouTube and her story resonated with many, who have to live a closeted life or face tragic consequences for embracing their identity.

Today, Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju has over 220,000 followers. Speaking on the difficult and complex journey to navigate gender identity and sexuality that many in the transgender community have to undergo, that too all alone, Gummaraju told SheThePeople, “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.”

Gummaraju also spoke on the role of porn in the fetishisation of transgender women. According to her one of the biggest disservices in the portrayal of transgender people is in pornography, which essentially reduces them to a fetish. “We become a category on a porn website reduced to a certain set of body parts solely for the voyeuristic fetishising male gaze. That also plays into Bollywood and the portrayal of trans people  in popular culture where we are reduced as sex objects,” she said.

Check out our interview with Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju:

Suggested Reading:

Pornography Reduces Transwomen to a Fetish: Trinetra Haldar on Sex and Pleasure

Everyone Called Me Chakka, Tista and Dipon A Married Transgender Couple’s Story

Who Is Leyna Bloom? First Transgender Cover Star For The Sports Magazine

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