What distinguishes Taali is that it is one of the first biographical works that focuses on the challenges and life of a transgender person, therefore providing a glimpse into their tough lives from their own perspective.

Taali is a biographical drama series based on the life of Shree Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist played by Sushmita Sen. The series, directed by Ravi Jadhav, lasts for three hours and is broken into six thirty-minute parts. It is available on the Jio Cinema platform in India. I was thrilled to watch the show after watching the teaser for the first time and being aware of the real-life inspiration. While inclusion of the LGBTQA+ population in mainstream films and series has expanded recently, there are a few that highlight the realities of the transgender community, such as – Laxmii, Super Deluxe.

What distinguishes Taali is that it is one of the first biographical works that focuses on the challenges and life of a transgender person, therefore providing a glimpse into their tough lives from their own perspective. Many notable biopics based on the lives of athletes, freedom fighters, army officers have been produced by the film industry. Taali thus adds a feather to the cap because it is innovative in its approach to raising awareness and praising the efforts of many such activists who seek to improve the status of the Third gender in India. This is certainly one of the most compelling reasons to watch this series.

Before we go any further, here is a quick summary of the transgender activist as to why she is remarkable –

Shree Gauri Savant is a transgender activist from Mumbai who has been working diligently for the transgender community for many years. Gauri established the Sakhi Char Chowghi Trust in 2000. The NGO encourages safe sex and offers transsexual counselling. In 2014, she was the first transgender person to petition the Supreme Court of India for transgender adoption rights.  She was a petitioner in the case of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), in which the Supreme Court declared transgender as a third gender. She also starred in an affectionate Vicks commercial and in Kaun Banega Crorepati. In 2019, she was appointed as the Maharashtra Election Commission’s goodwill ambassador.

Taali, focusing on the Supreme Court’s watershed decision in 2014, which officially recognized the third gender, It flashes back and forth in time to Gauri Sawant’s life, from her days as a child battling with identity to her days as a mother advocating for equality. The show seeks to cover major events in her life, such as her childhood and troubles with her father, gender affirming surgery, adopting a child, and handling the atrocities of the society. In the first episode, named Teesri ladai, she explains how her battle is separated into three stages: struggle for identity, struggle for survival, and struggle for equality, with the final one referring to the Landmark Case.

Krutika Deo’s performance as Young Gauri, known as Ganesh, helped viewers connect to the character’s predicament of feeling unfit. Her desire to be a mother, which no one around her understands, her loneliness after her mother passed away and her father’s reluctance to accept her identity are all major points where the audience can relate to the helplessness faced by young Gauri trapped in the body of a boy, wishing to be a girl.

Sushmita Sen, who plays a grown-up Gauri, does a fantastic job in the part. Her performance was a combination of grace and aggression, accurately calibrated to the necessities of the scene. Sen is depicted in the story’s midsection, where Gauri works with an NGO and as a waiter to earn and teach at the same time. These were the rare sequences where Sen seemed out of place in huge Kurtas, shirt trousers and even a fake moustache.

The story progresses from her days of survival to finally founding her own non-profit organization, dealing with other transgender people. The affection and warmth between Gauri and her new family could be seen in these specific scenes. Sheetal Kale’s performance as Nargis, a fellow transgender, was another highlight for me. Her friendship with Gauri, from once saving her life to presenting her a neckless that Gauri tressures as a trophy, are heartwarming experiences that will also have an impact on Gauri’s life.

Aside from the impressive performances, the show had its own set of flaws. To begin, despite the fact that the show drew out Gauri’s life across six episodes, it failed to give greater space to crucial moments that required more creativity, more time for viewers to absorb it and appreciate the depth of it. Factors such as Gauri’s transformation as a mother and her struggle to gain support from her own community were mentioned but not adequately developed. There are several situations in which Gauri faces adversity and hatred from members of her own community who believe that her work is harming their daily lives, even to the point where a fellow transgender tries to poison Gauri. However, these scenes are addressed with dialogues such as Mere paas na dushmano ki directory nahi dictionary milegi (you won’t either the directory or the dictionary of enemies with me) or inhone mera makeup kiya hai mei inka pack up karwati hoon (they did my makeup, I will do their pack up).

What was missing was a genuine confrontation moment to really show why many transgender people believed Gauri’s work was harming them, and it could’ve led the viewers to the real issue of why many of them are resistant to these changes. This alternate perspective was not properly explored.

Another letdown was the addition of sequences that felt like an attempt to inject some drama into the show. Scene of Gauri celebrating the commencement of her womanhood while dressed as a bride, was paralleled by her father performing Ganesh’s final rites. This was done to symbolically represent Gauri’s father’s reluctance to embrace her new reality.  Instead of this addition, it would have been good to devote more screen time to Gauri’s metamorphosis.

Other attempts at eliciting emotions were made with background music and almost poetic dialogues. It seemed as though Gauri’s every response was designed to be an inspiring statement. Gauri’s more open exchanges with people, such as the flight attendant on a trip to the United States or the school principal, were much appreciated.

Taali provided to the audience something that they had already seen on the internet and in the news. There was a lack of artistically narrating the story so that viewers could better comprehend the perspectives of the third gender. Taali remains an amazing first-of-its-kind biopic packed with a number of profound performances, and we hope that mainstream cinema brings out more work of such activists while providing LGBTQ people the opportunity to play these parts.


Read Also : https://dubeat.com/2016/09/03/transgender-accepting-the-non-conformist/

Featured Image Credits: JioCinema

Priya Agrawal

The transgender community seeks an educational upliftment at the earliest but the social construction of gender is creating mayhem. The question is, are we willing to place education above Self-Identity?

While reminiscing those childhood days in school when life was full of giggles and nonchalant days, I wondered about the questions I was asked back then. What is your favorite color- blue or pink? The answer was blue but the expectation was ‘pink’, since girls could not like blue. Different notions and behavioral patterns have constructed the concept of gender. The gender roles assigned to each of us are based on an accepted set of characteristics. If anyone falls beyond them, they are rejected in society’s eyes. Then what happens to the transgender community? What about their unique Self-Identity?

Education makes everyone better off. It is education that develops everyone and helps them to choose better and work for the best. Knowledge empowers an individual to recognize opportunities, understand their rights and duties. Education has the power to make a person complete. Gender alone can not determine the character of a person but it is the empowerment by education that makes a person face the world. Moreover, this educational empowerment helps in the developmental process of a country. We claim to be a developing nation and have set our eyes on becoming developed. The irony is that we are the same people who are creating hindrances in the process. Education should be imparted equally irrespective of gender then why is one section of the society deprived of it?  Why is equality a notion of just two genders?

The word gender may sound quite peculiar and unimportant but the impact it has is way greater than we can realize. You and I can sleep tonight with calmness. However, it is this very word that has seized the peace out of many lives. In a landmark case, the Supreme Court of India recognized the transgender community in 2014. It acknowledged the right to choose one’s gender identity as it is integral to the right to a life with dignity. This gave formal recognition to the community. Yet, there is a long way to social acceptance.

The transgender community has been deprived of cultural and social participation which has resulted in restricted access to education and other needs. According to official reports, there are about 4.9 lakhs people who belong to this community. The actual number could be way higher than these figures. Out of which, about 55,000 belong to the age group of 0-6. In comparison to the literacy rate of 74% of the general population, the literacy rate of this community is quite low at 46%. Although the constitution guarantees them a quality life, they lack the means that create the ‘quality’ of life.

Formal education for transgender is not a very popular concept in Indian society. The enrollment is significantly low and the drop-outs are too high. They are reluctant to continue schooling as a result of all the bullying and harassment they have to face. The community is deprived of a healthy environment be it at school or home. This further deteriorates their standard of living. With the prevailing stigma and less education, the endless number of opportunities is only present on the paper for them.

Back in 2014, when the country recognized the transgender community officially, the University of Delhi also included the third gender in their application form. It seemed to be a big leap since a premier institution had opened its arms towards inclusivity. Nevertheless, there are accounts of students who received a cold shoulder from the officials along with bullying that followed them into their classrooms.

I approached a group of students to find get directions to the window for filling up the application for DU’s School of Open Learning (SOL). They called me a ‘Chaka’. I never thought that educated people could be so insensitive. We are also a part of society. I knew right then that I will never be one of them.

-Delhi based transgender via ED Times

Educational deprivation comes from the question of equality. We are in an era where people are still gripping on the concept of feminism. Even now, we are fighting for women’s rights and equal opportunities for them. We are still bridging the gap between the two genders. When there is an issue of fairness between men and women then how is equality going to reach the third gender?

In a classroom, when a student uses a slur like ‘Chaka’ and it goes unnoticed in the name of a joke, are we taking this issue of inclusivity seriously? Are we inclusive when we have generalized the use of slurs for this part of society?

The transgender community faces problems in all walks of life. Hence, an equitable education through social acceptance is critical. This makes the need for educational empowerment even more important for the working of an inclusive society. There is a long road that needs to be walked down to achieve the collective goal of their social acceptance that would ensure reimbursement of their lost quality of life

Read Also: The Need for Queer Collectives in Colleges

Featured Image Source: News 18

Ankita Baidya

[email protected]


The conversation surrounding menstruation has largely been women-centric, is it time to go beyond the binary and include trans men, and queer folks? 

‘Bleeding makes me feel empowered’ is one of my go-to statements while I am menstruating. Most of the cis-gendered womxn I have encountered are surrounded by differing experiences, from squirming ovaries to period sex. Come womxn’s day, menstrual hygiene management, sanitary products, cramps, advertisements, literature, most of them cease to acknowledge that, not all womxn menstruate and not all people who menstruate are womxn.

Always, a menstrual product company owned by Procter and Gamble removed the ‘Venus’ symbol from their products, thus, dissociating their product packaging with womxn, making it more inclusive. Cis-womxn felt rather excluded believing that they are being erased from the conversations. They have criticised the inclusion of non-binary, trans men, and individuals of other genders and considered it disrespectful. What is feminism if not intersectional? 

A chance encounter with Vihaan Peethambar, Queer Feminist and Trans Activist at a Summit in Delhi last year threw light on the idea of trans men aka, those individuals who were assigned female at birth, implying that they menstruate well into their transition. We as a society tend to draw the line of womanhood at menstruation. We equate menstruation with feminity.

Gender does not have anything to do with one’s biological anatomy. Vihaan talks of the sheer disparity of bringing the non-binary and queer folks into the conversation surrounding menstruation. Anyone with a functioning uterus, ovaries, and hormonal system will menstruate until menopause. Umaima, a cis-gendered woman says, “The problematic aspect of the approach towards a subject which itself is a taboo is when womxn talk of mensuration in the specificity of it being about them and their oppression which is the partial truth. It sort of puts them in a superior light of oppression than those who disassociate from binary therefore furthering a difference of gender which shouldn’t exist in the first place.”

A gynaecologist in conversation with sheknows says, “If you have a uterus and aren’t pregnant/breastfeeding, menopausal, hormonally suppressing your periods, or dealing with a condition like PCOS, then you’re likely menstruating.” It is essential to disregard gender as a societal construct and focus on the functioning of the uterus. Sex-education is highly heteronormative and tends to chunk out a large community altogether. Transmen find menstruation a reminder of their ‘feminity’, a part of them that they would want to shed. It is a blaring alarm pointing towards their gender dysphoria. Streamlining the conversation towards cis-womxn and limiting it to womanhood, empowerment, and unleashing one’s power of reproduction eliminates and ostracises conversations, social action, public health, and legislative measures of an entire community.

The feminist movement has failed if its sense of feminism limits itself to cis-gendered womxn. It goes beyond the binary, intersectionality is the future of feminist discourse, it is time that the narrative incorporates womxn.

Feature Image Credits: helloclue

Anandi Sen

[email protected] 


The draft of the New Education Policy (NEP), 2019 is a progressive step towards liberal education in India. The guidelines laid down by the policy for the education of the transgender community is momentous in view of the discrimination faced by them for eons now. However, a pragmatic view is critical for its actualisation in a complex society like ours.

The current draft NEP has been spearheaded by former Chairman of Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), and noted scientist K. Kasturirangan. It has brought about some encouraging reforms like conferring of the Right to Education to children under six and above 14, doubling of the overall financial allocation to education and strengthening the teaching profession which was much acknowledged.

One of the transcending steps taken by the NEP is to provide equitable and inclusive education to transgender students. The plight of the transgender students to pursue an education in a society where they are perceived as taboo and face harsh criticism, this move to make educational spaces inclusive was a much-needed effort.

The draft NEP mentions,

“The Policy recognises the urgent need to address matters related to the education of transgender children and initiating appropriate measures to remove the stigma and discrimination they face in their life with respect to education. The creation of safe and supportive school environments which do not violate their constitutional rights will be accorded priority.”

It lays down guidelines for ensuring participation of transgender children in school education and thus exposing students about the issues faced by transgender children at an early stage for better social acceptance. The policy talks about developing a plan in consultation with transgender students and their parents regarding the use of their names and access to restrooms and other spaces, corresponding to their gender identity. Although this is a positive move to secure access based on their sexual identity, in a country like India with a high incidence of sexual crimes, it is unclear how the policy aims to safeguard their access to such places and deal with the stigma associated with it.

“The curriculum and textbooks will be reoriented to address issues related to transgender children, their concerns, and approaches that would help meet their learning needs,” the policy outlines. Our curriculum in primary, secondary or high schools has never talked about transgender and sexual identity. Including these topics in the syllabus and empathising with these issues will bring in a new wave for social acceptance.

Tanay Sinha, a 21-year-old from Rajdhani College welcomed the move and commented, “This will definitely help in making students aware and have empathy for the struggles transgenders have to go through on a day to day basis. Education and awareness about them and also how they’re just like any other human being, would make children respect and normalize the idea of being transgender. Most importantly, textbooks at school level are seen as The Truth so children would take no time in humanising the idea of transgenders.”

Transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi said in an interview, “I was bullied at school for being feminine, and my confidence was destroyed.” Introducing transgender rights and sensitisation on the topic would play the role of a catalyst in changing the stigmatized picture of the transgender community. However, the policy doesn’t touch upon sexual identities pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community, other than transgenders.

Exclusion and discrimination they face have severely restricted their social existence, rights to education and livelihood and has created gender identity crisis. The gender issues have always been decked in forcing people to opt for the category of either masculine or feminine; in our culture, the answer both or neither are generally not acceptable.

“I have noticed how they (people identifying with the LGBTQ+ community) are never accepted fully, and it’s not a welcoming and conducive environment for them to learn. You have to deal with confused people and then go on to take lessons explaining them. This is where the real hardship lies,”  Tanay adds further on this discussion.

Although the NEP has attempted to create guidelines, the implementation and actualisation in our complex social scenario remains unclear. It is reiterated by the fact that even the higher educational institutes struggle to bring the transgender students into mainstream education which was seen in this year’s University of Delhi application process. According to the official data released by the varsity, there was only one transgender applicant among 3.67 lakh candidates.

Prejudice based on gender has always been prevalent. Sensitization and awareness do not necessarily mean social acceptance and their integration in mainstream education. Inclusivity, awareness, and respect is a step forward for correcting the social offences the society has committed against the transgender community. The draft NEP 2019 has provided a basis for a much required progressive change. However, its implementation in the current scenario and its standpoint on the other stripes of the rainbow remains unclear.



Feature Image Credits: Edex live


Sriya Rane

[email protected]





With only one transgender applicant this year and no enrollments for regular courses since 2015, the University has had enough reminders to realise the plight of transgender students. DU Beat explores this decline.

University of Delhi (DU) receives the highest number of applications for various courses in the country, and this year was no different. The University received more than three lakh applications, though there was a decline from last year. 3,67,895 number of applications is no less a number, even as only 2,58,388 proceeded ahead and made payments.  In all these applications, women yet again seemed to have become a majority, 84,021 female candidates and 68,457 male candidates applied to the University. Shockingly, only one transgender person has submitted an application this year as compared to last year, or 2017 when the university had 36 applications.

According to the data, the scheduled tribe category saw 4,044 male applicants and 3,056 female applicants. Over 17,000 male candidates and 16,000 female candidates had applied in the SC quota and about 32,926 male candidates and approximately 22,531 female candidates applied for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) non-creamy layer quota.

The newly introduced EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) that has a ten percent quota in the university admissions also had  5,528 male candidates and 3,562 female candidates. This year the varsity has increased its capacity to 62,000 number of seats. It has been stated that there would be a separate cut-off for the EWS category.

The fact that only one transgender student has applied is a huge warning to the varsity. There seems to be very liitle that the university has been able to do to make the college spaces safe for the transgender community. It seems that the stigma attached to the community has not yet gone away and a singular application speaks volumes in this regard. There have been cases of harassments faced by transgenders from other students and staff and that may have been the reason for this decline in approaching the university for admissions.

With incidents of transgender persons being asked, “Since when have you been a transgender person?” by the admission staff. Being subjected to derogatory remarks during the admissions, they tend to take up vocational courses and steer away from the University space.

Even though the TRC (Transgender Resource Centre), established in 2018 had come up with various outreach programs to bring more students to the University fold, they seem to have not yielded substantial results. These outreach programs had begun during the month of April this year.

Equal rights activist Harish Iyer said that he would be writing to the Chief Minister of Delhi about this issue. “If that one candidate seeks admission to a college of DU, the whole college and especially the teaching and the non-teaching staff have to ensure that the student feels at ease and accepted. The civil society has to come together to address the issue.” he stated.

According to officials, last year there were applications from transgender aspirants but no one enrolled for regular courses. The varsity had introduced the Other category in 2015, but there have been no admissions to the regular course under this category so far.

Rajesh from the Department of Adult Continuing Education and Extension said, “Around 15 transgender students had come to us with queries but they all had queries about School Of Open Learning and Indira Gandhi National Open University. They usually prefer to enrol as male or female in regular courses or for distance learning education.”

The University needs to gear up to make sure that more and more transgender students feel welcome in the college space.  This year needs single registration needs to be a stern reminder for the same. It is all of us together who decide for us and others around us. Let us all try to accept each other and build a better future. Marks build your CV, not your character.

Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Stephen Mathew

joice.mathew [email protected]



In 2014, Supreme Court birthed a legal identity for the kinnar population in our country — third gender. But, who are these ‘other’ people and how are they different from the rest?

Gender theory tells us that gender is a social construct and it is not binary. Gender can be understood as a continuum with ‘man’ and ‘woman’ on its extreme ends, so when the Supreme Court equates transgender people to ‘third gender’, it becomes problematic.

In calling all transgender people ‘third gender’ the Supreme Court has completely forgotten the right to self determination. While the subsequent NALSA judgement 2014 allowed said right but, the upcoming transgender rights bill is taking it away. Transgender people who prescribe to the binary of being either ‘man’ or ‘woman’ fight their entire lives to be seen as one. To place binary trans people as ‘third gender’ is discriminative and builds a wall of otherness, when they are men and women just as much. Defining gender by bodily functions does the exact opposite of looking forward, it entrenches us back into the patriarchy.

Excluding trans people from the binary resonates with exclusion of their problems from the narrative. While the population rejoices in the ‘apparent’ liberal decision of the supreme court, it is far away from it. Having an identity legally is not enough. Several questions remain unanswered. In what washrooms, security frisking points, hostels, and do the third gender people go – male or female? What if a particular place does not have issued guidelines for the ‘other’ gender people? These are just basic technicalities that remain ignored, not to say that the socio-welfare schemes seem to be luxury for transgender people.

What was the purpose of creating a new political identity? Was it fulfilled?
When the Supreme Court decided that “trans rights are human rights”, it was important to figure out what part of the demography was transgender. Moreover, in case the government decides to help the trans population, they must know how to locate them. In any case, subjugating a separate identity for trans people was not fruitful. Since the government doesn’t believe in self-determination, transgender people are issued certificates by psychiatrists that could have been used to count, locate, and target the concerned population. Moreover, ‘transgender’ could have been created as an OBC category. Apart from creating headlines, this political identity is the best (worst) example of patriarchal understanding of transgender people.


Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Raabiya Tuteja
[email protected]

Mahamedha Nagar, an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist and the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) Secretary, has written to the Minister of Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, urging him to make education for transgender students free in the University of Delhi (DU). The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Jamia Millia Islamia’s distance learning programmes have already made education free for transgenders. Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) in Tamil Nadu has also made all courses free for transgender students.

Mahamedha told a DU Beat correspondent what compelled her to write this letter. She says, “I’ve always had interest in knowing more about transgenders. One night, I was generally watching this documentary on YouTube after which I came up with this idea!” If we talk about transgender students specifically in DU, in 2015, students were allowed the option to be recognised in the male, female, and other category. What is problematic though is that not a single student who identified as transgender took admission in DU (research by DU’s Adult, Continuing education. and Extension department).  In an India Today piece published in 2016, transgender students in the varsity talked about being openly discriminated, harassed, mocked, and humiliated. Rules and one-off events are not enough to make an impactful enough change, everyday realities need to be taken into account as well. It is important that our education actively rejects the gender-binary, and programs to sensitise students and faculty towards gender-minorities be introduced. In 2016, no transgender student took admission in regular colleges and only 18 students took admission in the School of Open Learning (SOL).

Therefore, the idea of making education free for transgender students may sound like a noble one, its impact will continue to be miniscule as long as there are only 18 transgender students in the University. Scholarships are an extremely effective incentive to ensure greater participation of minority groups in the education sector, but they alone are not an incentive enough to promote participation of transgender students in the educational sector.

Amongst Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been bearing the torch in creating a more inclusive society, especially in the context of transgender rights. In recent times, we have read heartening pieces of news like the first transgender person becoming a Sub-Inspector in Tamil Nadu police or the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’s decision to allow transgenders to use public toilets of their choice, it is important to remember that these are still marginal victories. Nagar, by writing to the HRD Minister regarding transgenders, has sparked conversation around trans rights in the education sector and has successfully brought to the forefront a neglected topic. Major societal changes are born about the youth through the tools of education and dialogue. Therefore, it is important the message behind this this initiative be respected and transgender rights and rights of minorities be taken more seriously.


Feature Image Credits: DNA

Kinjal Pandey
[email protected]

Our history and heritage, as we all know, shapes the kind of moulds we put our personalities into. There are legends and there are facts and then there are those stories that families keep under lock and key, hidden behind the boulders of the past. Our acceptance of the Transgender depends on a series of reactions that history has recorded. It would be incredibly hard to look at the world now and believe that the earliest records do show that transgender humans were greeted with great veneration as they were seen to be able to serve and understand a very complex mindset of both men and women, a different kind of ambidexterity.

However, what we find in records is often the surface of a much more intrinsic core and so is the case with transgender people. It is not knowledge that an outsider possesses but with an inclination to tap into the sentiments of this population, it gets easier to understand the struggles they go through.

The definition and interpretations of the transgender has gone through quite a few revisions over the years. In basic terms, it is a person who has been born with the physical orientation of a certain gender but the person’s mentality and if I may say so, soul alignment inclines towards another gender. Can someone, anyone ever stop to imagine the plight that they have to go through their entire lives? Getting through life, boosting yourself everyday to get people to like you is hard enough but leading a life in which people rarely understand you is a whole different level of a triumph.

The ‘hijras’ in India are popularly known to comprise this population and are considered to be a sign of blessing at weddings and festive gatherings but the acceptance here comes out of an attempt dipped in superstition due to the fear of bad karma and dharma.

As civilizations have moved on from the matrilineal societies to staunch patriarchal societies, we only now can feel the tiniest bit of a movement and at the moment, that’s all it is. Learned Indians are not ready to accept humans just like you and me because they have not been blessed with the same sexual and mental orientation that their body should coincide with. We often describe their minds to be too complex for our liking but we can’t really blame them because they’ve constantly been gushed with judgmental atrocities.

When we don’t quite understand a situation, the vital thing to do is to think rationally for a second, put yourself in their situation (repeated because we don’t quite seem to get it). Things we can’t seem to fathom are not problematic and definitely do not invite antagonism but gentle acceptance of a difference. Celebrate the courage that some people have to be able to make a public realization of how they actually should belong and go ahead and make that change.

Image Credits- cake.youthkiawaaz.com/2016/01/31/best-of-tumblr-gender-nonconformity-art

Baani Kashyap
[email protected]