Transgender rights NGO Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society, and event management company You Make US, came together to organize the first ever fashion show in the town of Kalyani, West Bengal, on Sunday the 7th of October, where 6 cisgender women and 3 transgender women (including members of the hijra community) walked the ramp together, breaking many socio-cultural and ideological shackles in the process and redefining ideas of beauty and the female body. The event, called Agomon ’18 (Arrival of the Goddess, ’18), was organized to herald the pre-Durga Puja celebrations in the town. Its tagline “Ebar Ashirbad Sobar Odhikar” (This time, everybody has a right to the Goddess’ blessings) succinctly communicates the intent behind the event: to humanise the marginalised community and embrace them into the folds of the mainstream society, and to celebrate the female, the feminine, and the effeminate in all their varied, glorious avatars.
Argha Roy Chowdhury (Silk), president of the Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society, said, “It has taken the transgender community a lot of courage to come forth and participate in an event like this, given the blatant discrimination, ostracization, and systemic oppression that we suffer in the hands of the mainstream on a daily basis. The decriminalization of Section 377 by the Supreme Court of India is certainly a welcome judgement, but it has not changed the ground reality for the transgender community, many of whom come from low-income, low-caste, sub-urban or rural households, and who face discrimination on those counts as well as for their gender identity and sexual expression.The hijra and transgender communities need jobs, education, and a chance at a good quality of life, and that will only be possible if mainstream society starts viewing transgender people as one of their own. We appeal to the government to create job opportunities for the community, and we hope the mainstream society starts viewing transgenders people as fellow human beings with hopes and dreams and fears of their own, and helps them integrate into mainstream society. This event is a small but significant step in that direction.”
Sukrit Choudhury, co-founder of You Make US, tried to balance caution and hope as he said, “We know that this one event will not bring about an overnight change. But we hope that when people witness atrocities and injustices being meted out to the hijra and trans community in front of them, they will speak up for them and ensure them justice. We hope that society starts interacting with transgenders on a humanitarian level, and makes this society a slightly better place for them to be a part of.”
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