After calling trangender people “the other ones” in the Lok Sabha during a debate on including information about human trafficking in school textbooks, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi today apologized for her “lack of knowledge”.

But is this Twitter apology enough? Shouldn’t the Honourable minister know better than that? LGBTQ is such a prevalent topic of conversation in the current times when we are discussing scrapping of Section 377 and, yet, we have members in the government who lack basic knowledge about terminologies!

It isn’t just the problem of Gandhi, who was awkward in her demeanour while talking about the trans people, but also that of the politicians sitting in the House who laughed at her comment. How juvenile a behaviour is that?

“It is such a shameful thing. We are petitioning against Section 377 in the Supreme Court, we are fighting for our identity for so many years. This is the same Maneka Gandhi who fights for the rights of animals. Then as a human being, can’t she fight for another human being and have respect for them?” said noted trans activist Gauri Sawant.

“The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment has given us the right to call ourselves transgenders or the ‘Third Gender’. And if a trans man wants to be called man, then that’s okay too, according to the Supreme Court decision,” Sawant added.

But she said that at least Gandhi’s laughter started a dialogue on this. When lawmakers are not sensitive, then how can we even talk about the grassroots level? she questioned.

Nitasha Biswas, who is Miss India at the Miss International Queen 2018, echoed Sawant’s emotions. She said that there are many names one can call transgender people, with but calling them “the other ones” is just pathetic. “It shows where we need sensitization the most. We call ourselves the trans sisters and it is such a beautiful name. This otherization is uncalled for,” she said.

Comedian and gay activist, Navin Noronha, said, “People are so unaware of how it’s like to be a transperson in the first place. I am gay man and there are many like me who have the privilege of looking a certain way and doing certain things a certain way but trans community doesn’t have that and then there is so much of stigma around it. So when people in power say something like this, then it just holds down the stigma and it trickles down to the common public memory.”

“It is such a shameful thing. We are petitioning against Section 377 in the Supreme Court, we are fighting for our identity for so many years. This is the same Maneka Gandhi who fights for the rights of animals. Then as a human being, can’t she fight for another human being and have respect for them?” -Gauri Sawant

“She is the WCD minister, then how did she not spend time researching about the different genders? How can she not consider the women who have transitioned from men because then she isn’t considering all the women. Very very depressed to see this happening in 2018,” Navin added.

Navin went on to talk about how there are so many trans women in the country and Gandhi can learn something by interacting with them. What’s stopping her from doing that? he asked.

The incident, however, did not shock human rights activist Harish Iyer at all. “Political correctness is not something that Maneka Gandhi is famous for. So this doesn’t come across as a surprise to me. I’m glad that she thought of mentioning transgenders in a world that refuses to think beyond binaries. There is nothing to shy or sigh about transpersons. I’m sure, with time she would learn.”

While Gandhi apologized for the blunder on Twitter, that doesn’t compensate for the harm she caused to the transgender community.

Picture credit- Indiatimes

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