Tag Archives: transgender

The Venus Flytrap: Not A Private Matter

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When I became involved with Chennai’s first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender – or in broad terms, queer) Pride Month, I fully expected to encounter disapproval from openly intolerant people and organizations. But more disturbing were the less transparent remonstrations, from individuals who seemed far more open-minded than the average Chennaiite. The most lingering of these impressions was when I was told that the rights of sexual minorities are less important than other causes, and that they are, and should stay, “a private issue”.

Whether or not an issue is more or less important than others is a highly subjective matter – we always fight against or for what hurts or matters to us most, based on what we are exposed to by virtue of our circumstances. But the underlying contention was that queer rights only affect some people, whereas issues like education, clean sewage and pollution affect everybody.

And this is where I beg to differ.

Fact is that sexuality and sexual agency are extremely public issues. The entire so-called moral bedrock of society is based on forcing people to behave in certain sanctioned ways, regardless of whether or not these ways are in tune with their biological, psychological and emotional orientations. If this wasn’t the case, arranged marriages – which organize people’s sexual behaviour within a regimented, strictly heterosexual social framework – would not exist. Vast swathes of misogynistic behaviour would all but disappear, because much such behaviour comes as reaction to the threat perceived in fully self-possessed female sexuality. Count honour killings, eve-teasing and molestations – any act of “punishment” based on gender and sexuality – among them. Women would have complete autonomy over their uteruses. People could marry out of caste or culture freely. Divorce would be destigmatized. Asexuality, too, would be accepted as part of the continuum of possible sexualities.

And of course, if sexuality was a private issue, archaic Penal Code laws that criminalize private adult sexual behaviours (such as consensual anal sex between men) would not exist. The law would stay out of bedrooms (and yes, bathrooms and brothels), as long as consent is present. Did you know that under Section 377 of the Code, oral sex between consenting heterosexual adults is technically illegal? Does all this still seem like a minorities’ problem?

I see the Pride movement as paving the way for a society that is better for everybody in it, not just queer people. An environment which is accepting of diverse sexualities is one in which everyone, including straight people and people who “don’t make a big deal about their orientation”, is freer. Perhaps then sexuality will truly be a private matter.

Freer to do what, you may ask? To me, the answer is simple – to love who they love, and be who they are. And if that’s not an issue that matters to every person there is, so universal that no one – bar no one – is unaffected by it, I don’t know what is. Ultimately, I don’t think this is about sex nearly as much as it is about freedom, identity – and love.

So this June, as supporters take to the streets in a fabulous parade, raise awareness (and the roof!) with panel discussions, performances and film screenings, bear in mind just how many people we’re fighting for. All with open hearts will be welcomed with open arms.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.

For more details about Chennai Pride 2009, check out the Facebook group.

Please Help Yuki

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This is heart-wrenching. I read her story and am completely gutted for her. She was abandoned by her husband five days before her sex-realignment surgery, and is now unemployed and almost homeless. Please help. Got this from Lainie. Please do pass it on.

Dear gals and pals,

I would like to bring your attention to a special cause today: a dear friend of mine, Yuki Choe, a male-to-female transsexual, is in dire straits and urgently in need of donations to support her living expenses.

HER CURRENT SITUATION:

Yuki is currently unemployed and living on what remains of her savings. She is also relying on some donations made through her blog but PayPal is not recognised by most Malaysian banks. She has few friends. Some are helping but not enough. Her family has turned her down as well.

She has applied for over 60 jobs but had only 2 interviews, one of which rejected her, and the other offered her a job as a mortgage and home loan provider. She is eager to take it up as a part-time job, as well as start her own business (selling art pieces), but lacks start-up capital.

She has been disqualified for state welfare. She is currently staying in a single room in USJ until she gets evicted.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

(1) Donate to Yuki –
All donors will be listed at Yuki’s blog (www.yukishock.blogspot.com). Donors can choose to be named or remain anonymous. Any amount will be deeply appreciated.

(2) Notify Yuki if you know anyone willing to offer her a job with a stable income –
Those of you involved in LGBT activism will know that many transsexuals in Malaysia entered the flesh trade after failing to notch a single decent job offer, but Yuki is determind not to meet the same fate. She is also the only actively blogging transsexual LGBT advocate in Malaysia. Let’s help her help herself, so that when she finally finds a firm footing, she can be a role model to all other transsexuals in Malaysia to lead independent, healthy and responsible lives.

(3) Spread this message around –
Post this on your blog, tell your friends, email your contacts – spread the word, get as many people as possible to chip in a little bit.

Please help Yuki get by, one day at a time.
Your help will be deeply appreciated.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

She can be contacted at yuki.choe@yahoo.com.
For those who want to read about her life story, they can refer to yuki-thejourney.blogspot.com and yukishock.blogspot.com.

Please help if you can, donations, crossposting on your blog, whichever works. Yuki is an NCC Diploma holder, well versed in administrative work, sales and teaching. More a customer service person, with good computer skills.