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Unlearning Heteronormativity

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Unlearning Heteronormativity
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By Ishani Panda

I was passing by a street one evening when I saw a bunch of teenagers requesting a fellow teenager to mimic a ‘Chhakka’ (eunuch). He walked up and down the street by swaying his waist, went to another boy, and made a sound of clapping on his face by spreading the fingers of both the palms and shouted: Ae Chikne,” to which all of them burst out laughing.

It was devastating to see the younger generation of the country, making fun of the community, which uses clapping and varying lingo to draw others’ attention to their existence.

Not only children, but even adults also resort to bullying and mocking those whom they see as inclined to effeminacy. It is astounding to learn how we, as a society, have ignored the existence of marginalized communities because they do not follow the conventional gender norms.

The fictional made up conventions of the society have carved a pathway for the bourgeois mentality, which rejoices in privileges but suppresses and rejects anything which questions its logic.

A Ferris wheel of lies is being fed by normalizing heterosexuality for centuries and any other form of sexual orientation, which defies it should be considered for a trip to the mental asylum.

The American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler has shown that gender is not concrete; rather, its existence lies in fluidity and its performativity.

In simple terms, it can be said that our gender is based on what we feel from inside, how we behave and want to act in the society, in which section do we relate ourselves mostly to.

For example, a man who will be described as a male according to the conventional binary standards of gender (male and female) might not feel masculine from within.

He might want to dress up as a woman, behave like a woman, and feel feminine from within without changing sex. Therefore attributing an identity to an individual based just on his sex and gender proves our flawed mindset.

It forcefully limits a vast range of features and characteristics present in a person to fewer terminology. No matter how mind-boggling it seems, identity is a social construction. A person recognizes himself according to the norms of society.

These norms have been built for, and by a particular group of people who have held the umbrella of their “ideal normalcy” and have snatched away fundamental survival rights of those, they consider abnormal and keep it in their Pandora box of privileges.

The society has already decided what a person should be called according to the sex one is born with, what gender one should follow. After being put under the label of gender, society decides what manners one should follow to fit into that gender.

Anything that deviates from the normalized behaviour which the society has inculcated within the minds of humans since the old times is considered abnormal.

We have been so blind in following the code of conduct that we have forgotten to ask that if what is deemed to be healthy is normal or it is just centuries of blatant lies which have been shoved down our throat and hammered into our brain which has made us believe in this ideology.

We live in a country which has given us freedom of expression, yet people are brutally tortured for the appearance of their own identity, which is not driven by this society.

It is reported that homosexuality was stopped considering as a mental illness during the 1970s, but when we dig up the reality hiding under the facade of the progress.

We can find a mass mentality filled with hatred, fear, and anger towards the LGBTQ community. Disturbingly, it looks like the discredited concept of conversion therapy is still being practised.

Claiming to “cure” queerness can involve everything from shock treatment to exorcism and hormones to a psychotropic drug. The ‘patients’ are taken to psychiatric wards in hospitals or de-addiction centres with falsified files.

The families still believe that homosexuality does not exist at all. Therefore many families work as catalysts in destroying the entire being of their children by sending them for conversion therapies.

These conversion therapies prove instrumental in irreparably damaging the mental health of homosexuals, which push them to a lifetime of darkness through panic attacks, depression, PTSD, and some even commit suicide sooner or later.

It is essential to understand that disagreement with a certain thought process, ideology, sexual orientation, opinion, and social constructions doesn’t create a monster.

The people who are considered abnormal and are looked down are just as normal like everyone else. The government laid the foundation stone of freedom for the LGBTQ community by scrapping the article of 377, but in order to create an empire of respect, love, and acceptance, a joint humanitarian effort is required.

Many people from the LGBTQ community suffer tremendously despite having immense talent and creativity at the hands of cisgenders who try to bully them or even refuse to give them jobs.

It is still a Herculean task to adopt a child. Under the country’s family laws, only marriage is the “only legitimate form of expressing emotional and financial dependency”.

Hence, rights surrounding the institution, such as the right to adoption, are closed off to same-sex couples. Education becomes a luxury if a person “comes out” due to the myths pertaining to the environment that will ruin other children’s mentality. The internet has become a basic necessity in every household in today’s scenario, and with it comes its own boon and bane.

While many people have gathered strength and come out openly to share their experiences, feelings, and emotions as a community of LGBTQ, there are still many people who use their privileges and capitalism to demean the community’s existence to a laughing stock.

How difficult is it to understand that they are normal humans, and everyone should be accepted the way they are? I believe this acceptance should come through our education system.

The universities have opened up LGBT academic branches for the students to know more about gender and sexuality whereas it is absolutely vital that these studies should be included from school levels, open and compulsory for each and every child to know how various communities in a society co-exist together so that he learns to accept and respect them since childhood.

We as a society should be flexible enough to accept changes which are vital for the progress of society so that we can educate our younger generations to be tolerant and loving towards everyone equally.

Giving the right to education, adoption, surrogacy, employment, and contesting elections and forming political parties are vital for the survival of the LGBTQ community in India.

Ostracizing the bourgeoisie among people and giving them equality will help create a better nation that can be proudly painted with rainbow colours.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Very beautifully pointed out the discrimination going on for centuries. Today many come forward on social media as a supporter but majority of them do so because this way people will see their greatness and how neutral they are, which is a “new cool” for today’s generation.
    Covered almost all the aspects concerning this issue..Good work..
    Keep it up..
    Will be looking forward for more content from your side covering variety of topics.

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