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Transgender issues to be discussed on Tamil TV

November 2, 2007

For the first time in India a transgender person will host a TV show and the show will discuss sensitive and socially relevant topics such as homosexuality, transsexuality, gender disparity and alternate sexuality.

It’s a talk show on a Tamil language channel (Vijay TV) and will be called ‘Ippadikku Rose’ (Yours Rose) and will go on air in December. Rose herself is a beautiful, chic and articulate woman (saw her interviewed on TV) and is also a postgraduate in bio medical sciences. Two of her post-grad degrees are engineering degrees from the US. At first it seems as if this is a trick to gather TRP’s but Pradeep, the head of Vijay TV, has vehemently denied it. He insists that the idea is to educate society about such issues and he found that Rose was best for the job as she was bold enough to talk openly about them. In India there is a bias against transsexuals and a fair amount of ignorance as well, so the show is bound to bust some stereotypes.

In fact this is a grey area for most people – transsexuality, transgenders. On the Wiki for example there are two separate pages on these two terms and the explanations are a bit different. Clearly there are various complex reasons why and how a transsexual becomes that way and not all of them are within her/his control – due to biological causes. The common man in India is exposed only to eunuchs and they can be different from transsexuals. There is a lot of prejudice against eunuchs in our society and they face a huge amount of job discrimination and are often forced to beg.

The fact that the show will discuss issues not just of transgender people but also of homosexuality and alternative sexuality is intriguing…because homosexuality is illegal in India I just hope we don’t get the moral police descending on this even before the venture starts.

(The photo of Rose has been linked to the original and the second one has been taken by me on the streets of Mumbai and is that of an eunuch)

Related Reading: Indians don’t like talking about sex
The sex toy condom stirs up a controversy
Moral policing in India reaches new depths
Sex education badly needed in India
Sex education can counter the ill-effects of porn

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2007 11:15 am

    I read the news report too Nita. There is very little written of known about people like Rose and this would help highlight their cause.

  2. xntricpundits permalink
    November 2, 2007 2:12 pm

    Just read the news.Not much of information in the local newspapers .Hope this isn’t a gimmick to garner some TRP’s.Should wait and watch…

  3. November 2, 2007 2:56 pm

    Nita: I find it amusing that on the one hand, so many Indians are now so holier-than-thou telling NRIs off for saying anything remotely critical of India and telling them off for their evidently second-rate lives abroad. And on the other hand, the same Indians are happy to carry the yoke of ancient laws that even the British, who have long left, have repealed.

    The sense of moral outrage at exclusionary practices in the Indian society is so conspicuous by its absence, it amazes me. But then again, I sound like an idealist expecting too much of ordinary people, eh?

  4. November 2, 2007 3:00 pm

    Thanks Prerna, Xntric..
    Shefaly, that’s an interesting point you brought out…that many Indians are holier-than-thou when NRi’s criticize India. Well, I think it’s in part because they aren’t here to correct it. After all, they have left…and at the same time they are neither foreigners whom one can excuse for not understanding. Also NRI’s are not responsible for the great society that they are experiencing out there in the developed world, they are enjoying the fruits of what the ancestors of the whites have done. So if they kick India it doesn’t make too much sense to me. after all, their ancestors have created India and the situation here.
    but that’s not the only thing. I have seen NRIs really tear India apart and I have frankly never seen this in any Indian. Maybe there are Indians like this but there are more NRI’s who dislike India than Indians who live here. Maybe it’s because we live here and have to continue to do so…
    But don’t think I am generalizing. But even if one NRI in a hundred hates India or perhaps two, people get sensitive to what other NRI’s say.

  5. November 2, 2007 5:49 pm

    Thanks to Vijay TV which provided her a platform.. It’s record! First transgender to host a show on TV in India when her own family objected her.. Hope this show changes people’s wrong/cheap attitudes towards transgenders.

    Thanks for info Nita.

  6. November 2, 2007 5:54 pm

    Bharath, thanks. Yes, even her own family was against it! I guess that makes Rose a very special person.

  7. November 2, 2007 7:05 pm

    Nita:

    I am forced to challenge something you say mainly because the underlying assumptions are too sweeping to ignore.

    “Well, I think it’s in part because they aren’t here to correct it. After all, they have left…and at the same time they are neither foreigners whom one can excuse for not understanding.”

    In addition to making a contribution to the economy through remittances, many NRIs are responsible for and active participants in financing the current economic boom in India.

    As investors, they have a right to expect returns whereas the “resident” Indians benefit from additional job creation but lack the political will or sense of collective responsibility required for a second chance at nation-building.

    If those returns are hampered, by avoidable or essentially ‘correctable’ issues such as of infrastructure or judicial systems (note: no societal correction is expected), these NRI investors have a legitimate right to express those grievances.

    If it were largely non-Indian or non-Indian-at-front-face investors, the criticism would not come because of two reasons:
    a) such investors are not emotionally vested and frankly could not give a rat’s ass about where India is headed; and b) they would simply pull out.

    Whether people take such commentary as heartless criticism or an opportunity to become truly world class depends on the recipient and their desire to improve.

    “Also NRI’s are not responsible for the great society that they are experiencing out there in the developed world, they are enjoying the fruits of what the ancestors of the whites have done. So if they kick India it doesn’t make too much sense to me. after all, their ancestors have created India and the situation here.”

    Just because someone’s ancestors have created a situation does not mean the brunt has to be borne forever. It is like kicking Germans for Hitler that is still fashionable in Europe but they are standing up for themselves now.

    NRIs may not be responsible for having created the benefits they are enjoying but few NRIs are sitting back without contributing. Nearly every society they have joined in has benefited greatly in economic and cultural terms.

    Increasingly now there is greater and much more active political participation so the desire-to-critique-and-improve is really shaping up in bigger ways. Bobby Jindal is actually a Johnny Come Lately in this regard. In the UK, the political participation of Asians (as Indians are called) is wide and effective. And they have done it without negotiating their social or religious identities, without giving up their tongue twister names.

    Likewise in Africa, where the legacy is not of the white man, but of the Asians themselves. (That you – despite having lived in Africa – refer to the white man’s ancestors is interesting in itself, as many Asians populate Africa too but somehow the label of NRIs seem to invoke a white ghost, suggesting something deeply disturbing about the nation’s psyche..)

    “But even if one NRI in a hundred hates India or perhaps two, people get sensitive to what other NRI’s say.”

    This is exactly symptomatic of the holier-than-thou attitude to which I was referring.

    Thanks.

  8. November 2, 2007 8:02 pm

    I am not arguing with you Shefaly because you have presented a rational argument. :)
    Ofcourse I agree many many NRI’s are contributing, but unfortunately that is not the impression that people have here. I guess the only contributions of NRI’s that are highlighted here are those which benefit the host country!

  9. November 2, 2007 8:29 pm

    Nita:

    “I guess the only contributions of NRI’s that are highlighted here are those which benefit the host country!”

    For clarifications on which please refer to Nita’s earlier posts re the media in India :-)

  10. November 2, 2007 9:23 pm

    I think this is a positive step. It’s too early to say how it’ll play out though. The prejudices in Indian society regarding transgender/homosexualtiy etc. will probably take a generation or more to become weak.

  11. November 2, 2007 10:12 pm

    Amit, I was surprised to hear that such a show was going to be on air! But trust Tamil TV to be a leader in these things. Even some of their cinema is pretty pathbreaking.
    but ofcourse the society is still pretty conservative…I just hope some stupid political party doesn’t put a spanner in the works.

  12. November 2, 2007 10:24 pm

    Nita: All we really need to do is to make Kama Sutra required reading for all teenagers and young adults.

    They will discover how ‘modern’ their prudishness and their ideas about deviancy are.

    The best thing to attack prejudice with is information. And since we are so keen on our culture, why not start there?

  13. November 2, 2007 11:22 pm

    Is this that person n show u refer to?
    gallery.cinefundas.com

    things r changing here in mumbai and there is a creeping understanging of sexuality though it will take a lot of time to educate masses who hardly even know about their own bodies and sexuality and think that homosexuality and tg is a lifestyle choice and something that can be done away with somewhat like in us / vatican where the church also preaches this stuff..

    Unlike ancient india which was far more enlightened we follow Victorian laws that havent still changed

    human psychology fascinates me sometimes , and sexuality is still under study and a lot of things we dont know about
    manavendra singh apart read on David Reimer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer
    this will give u some insight
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity#Relationship_to_gender_role
    this series might also interest u
    there is a whole series i planned to have a post on this but will do later http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx-kRD97cho

  14. November 2, 2007 11:57 pm

    Shefaly,

    //In addition to making a contribution to the economy through remittances, many NRIs are responsible for and active participants in financing the current economic boom in India.//

    It’s their private business.. It’s neither a contribution nor charity!

    BTW.. please put Adult content warning before u come with KS articles..

  15. November 3, 2007 12:52 am

    All we really need to do is to make Kama Sutra required reading for all teenagers and young adults.

    Shefaly, good idea!! Only if we can get the (pseudo)seculars and marxists to see beyond their noses, and stop the saffronites from twisting it to suit their political agenda. :)

  16. November 3, 2007 1:13 am

    Amit: I suppose all these pseudo-seculars have their own secular manual. Wonder what _that_ contains? Hah!

    And all the saffronites clearly need help from the manual. The Hindu rate of growth has long been held to mean slow and sluggish and not very good an idea. :-)

  17. November 3, 2007 7:38 am

    Shefaly, like Amit said these guys who want to stop sex education etc often have political agendas. They are the ones who whip up passions amongst the conservative public. Even basic sex education has been stopped in India. I think all these things will start to change only once our public gets educated. There was a very interesting article I read…about how in another 50 years we will be rid of the Gandhi dynasty and also most of our really bad politicians because literacy rates will rise.

    Prax, thanks for the links. I had searched for a pic of Rose but hadn’t found one. I have added the one you gave on to the main post. will check out the other links.

  18. November 3, 2007 4:59 pm

    Nita: now you are on WP homepage :-) with this post

    As for formalising anything, well this one will fly without it too. We should try and announce it to students who will find copies themselves. Formal sex education be damned :-)

  19. November 3, 2007 5:15 pm

    @Shefaly:

    Hi, I am trying out a new script and actually replying to you from my comment box without going to the post. whew it’s a relief!
    and formal sex education is damned in India! There was a school teacher who actually made kids take off their clothes to demonstrate! No, I am not joking, this was reported in the newspaper, some wierd school and an untrained teacher and this is one of the reasons given for banning sex education. I guess one needs to educate teachers first!

  20. November 3, 2007 6:12 pm

    Nita: This demonstrates wonderfully to me that practitioners do not always make good teachers :-/

  21. November 3, 2007 6:18 pm

    I don’t know why it is, but changing some social attitudes towards sexuality is usually the work of generations. It seems that in America it’s been easier to get some measure of equality for Blacks and women than it has been for homosexuals.

  22. November 4, 2007 8:29 am

    @Paul:

    i agree, these things take a lot of time to change. actual work has to be done on this…but in India we are still busy fighting poverty and these issues take a back seat.

  23. guna sekhar (malaysia) permalink
    November 4, 2007 10:13 am

    personally, i feel homosexuality n their confusion of their gender is a result of their past karma n misdeed maybe they used to abuse woman or something like that in the past n in this life they will suffer due to that….. but we straight ppl shud not discriminate them….just let them live as they want….. just dont allow same sex marriage like wat they do in western contries…that sucks ….

  24. November 4, 2007 10:53 am

    @ Paul:

    What is interesting is that although societal attitudes take a bit to change, the age of consent itself – a manifest acknowledgement of the verisame sexuality – has varied widely over time and does so even now.

    What gives?

  25. November 5, 2007 5:51 am

    @ Shefaly

    That’s a puzzle, isn’t it? I’ve heard that age of consent laws are in many cases determined by economics. The age of consent tends to go up as a society changes from an agrarian to an industrial economy because continuing ones education becomes much more important than producing babies at a young age. So, maybe there’s no equally compelling economic reasons for extending equality to GLBT people?

  26. November 5, 2007 8:13 am

    just dont allow same sex marriage like wat they do in western contries…that sucks

    Well said. I can’t even tell you the number of straight couples who have taken the divorce exit as a result of two gay men tying the knot in a different city or state. Horrible, I tell you. What were those gay men thinking?? They have absolutely no consideration for straight couples and what their marriage is doing to them (straight couples). ;) :)

  27. March 26, 2008 11:28 am

    Dear Nita,

    I’m a reporter working on a story for National Public Radio (in the USA) about Rose and was hoping that you might be willing to talk to me about your feelings about the program. I would love to talk with you today if you are around. My e-mail is sgcarney(at)gmail (dot)com
    (or via phone at 9308185773)

    thanks

    scott

    I have emailed you Scott. – Nita.

  28. March 27, 2008 9:37 am

    This program hosting Rose on Vijay TV is great. It has come up really nice.

    -Bharath

  29. Pamella permalink
    November 15, 2008 1:01 am

    guna sekhar (malaysia)
    I would like to know how you can make that remark. My god this is the 21st century whats with the past Karma rubbish. Seriously are you for real!

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