By Sharanya Gopinathan
Back in 2015, Kerala became the first state to unveil it’s State Policy for Transgenders at the International Conference on Gender Equality in Kovalam. The policy was aimed at enforcing the constitutional rights accorded to transpeople by the Supreme Court in the NALSA judgement of 2014, which also officially recognised the “third gender” and allowed for self-determination of gender. That Supreme Court judgement included a variety of actions aimed at recognising and including transpeople in society. While many of its directives have been ignored by states across the country, such as that on the construction of public toilets for the so-called “third gender”, it seems like some states are taking steps to bring transpeople into mainstream society, like Kerala, and coming out with policies and actions to help them.
As part of Kerala’s policy for transpeople, which seeks to actualise the provisions of the SC ruling, it has now been announced that the Kerala Government will be hosting a sports meet for transgender people in the state. It will see participation from people all over the state, and include events like 100 metre, 200 meter and 400 metre races, long jump and shot putt. Transgender rights activist Sheetal told The News Minute that actions like these and others from the State Policy, are changing the lives of transpeople in the state.
The event will be held on the 28th of April at the Central Stadium in Trivandrum. It sounds like a cool move, and the beginning of an even cooler one if it’s leveraged cleverly: sports has, in the past, been a great way to bring people, societies and nations together, and was even used as one of the tools to heal post-apartheid South Africa. The idea of sports events for trans people could act as a starting point for plans that could bring members of different communities together in sports in an effort to dispel stereotypes and discrimination against transpeople.
Of course, this event does bring to mind the murky interaction between sports and gender: there are several horrifying stories around the policing of women and gender in sports, such as the awful story of India’s own Santhi Soundarajan or the controversy around South African athlete Caster Semenya at the Rio Olympics.