Nupee Manbee | Male to Female Transgender Community in Manipur Society

Maimom Ranjit (Inao) Singh *

 Nupee Manbee  | Male to Female Transgender Community in Manipur Society
Nupee Manbee | Male to Female Transgender Community in Manipur Society :: Pix - TSE

Since the beginning of life in our planet, except for very few unique species termed as 'hermaphrodite', there has been two types of any species i.e. male species and female species. Likewise, human being too has these two types of species: male or man and female or woman (male-masculine gender and female-feminine gender). But, fortunately, some qualities which are not in other species are found in human beings like cognition, understanding of human moral value and psychology.

Everybody knows about these two group of people in our society - man and woman. The said two groups can live and has been existing in our society very openly without any fear, hessitation and stigma according to the rules and responsibilities, taking part in the family and society in the culturally accepted and recognizable way.

Upon deeper look, it is seen that another two groups of people, besides the above mentioned groups, exist in our society. They are: (1) the persons who are born as a female gender, biologically and physically, but their appearance, role, practices, lifestyle, grooming, eroticism and acting shows a deeply rooted and similar with that of a man and (2) those who are born as male gender, but their mode of speaking, dealing, attitude, gesture, mindset/thoughts, believe, adherment, emmotion, romanticism and desires are very parallel with woman. Today these groups of people are known as female to male transgenders and male to female transgenders (TG).

Here in this essay, I'll write about the male to female transgender 'Homo' (a loose term used for effeminate man in Manipur). As existing in other countries of the world, male to female transgender people has been here in India and Manipur since the years and years back. They are called by different names using identified terminologies according to the place, religion, language/dialect, culture, caste, creed and custom of their respective society where they belong to.

Not withstanding, most of them do not lead a secured life as other larger community. There are some root causes and factors for this. They are often a target of vicious names calling by society, use of abusive and hurtful words (like sign of bad luck/omen), heckling, teasing and mocking and even physical attack.

Such negative attitude arising from the society is happening at work places, public spaces, educational institutions and even in their respective families and neighbourhood. Such harrassment and violence results in emotional and pychological trauma and then impedes the lives of transgender community indeed.

It's very clear that most people from the larger community of the society does not know and has not fully understood about the TG community with regards to: who they are; why are they, the way they are; what are background scenario of a TG, etc. The society also does not seem to try to find out about these.

Actually, it would be not wrong to say that 9 out of 10 from the larger community do not have proper knowledge about TG. Most of them think that the mode of effeminate nature of TG people is artificial and not by nature, and that it could be changed by beating, threatening, abstinence from same behaviour company, getting psychological treatment, looking after by concerned families etc.

By such wrong concept and perception that has no accurate evidence and proof, the society always treat the TG community negatively. consequently it brings physical weakness, mentally dis-alert and immotional insecurity. So, according to this destructive frame of mind which they made to be associated with, they begin to have a wrong sense of being, turn to wrong path and even attempt to suicide.

On the other hand, this socially stigmatized and marginalised group has been contributing something to Manipur society in areas like make-up, designing, potloi making, art and culture etc. They are very genuine and excellent in these fields. Not only these, but also there are some persons who have maintained high status, themselves being intellectuals and social minded. Neverthless, they cannot disclose their sexual indentity and come out openly saying we too are 'Nupee Manbi' (TG). Why is that? It is because of the stigma and discrimination meted to the TG community.

It would be very pertinent to be noted that the main cause of the aforesaid disturbances and awful reaction being faced by TG community is due to the deeply rooted gender bias and gender stereo typical norms of the society. South Asian countries as well as India (in the same breadth, Manipur too) are also a male dominent and patriachal society.

In this society, there is a social compulsion and bind that these persons who were born as male, should conduct certain activities and follow the set role and responsibilities expected out of a male member in the society i.e. marry a woman, being a father of the child, maintain and lead the family, so on and forth. But in reality, most of the TG community cannot follow this rigid gender norm of the society as it's basic nature is in contrast. When they try to attempt it, they face a lot of problems in their lifes.

Not wanting this unwanted situation and with an idea to readress this issue, some have come out openly to work for the development and welfare for the TGs in the state.

In fact, there are three registered Community Base Organization (CBO) run and formed by themselves namely: Maruploi Foundation, Sissy Approach Voluntary Esteem (SAVE) and Awaken Artisan Shelter Association (AASHA). The three CBOs are working at Bishnupur , Imphal East and West under the financial and technical support received from State, National and International funding agencies. Besides this, there is a coalition body/network formed by the said CBOs, named AMANA which is working at state level for TG community focusing on life skill, education, livelihood and human rights concerns for them.

It is to bring to the kind notice of larger community people that transgender community too are human beings. They too experience and feel the range of human temperaments like romance, eroticism, happiness, joy, laughter, sadness, anger.They too have the right to enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by Indian Constitution as a citizen of India. Society should not discriminate them. Their effeminateness could not be changed. This is their inborn quality, but not an addiction as in using intoxicant drugs.

As a very historic and glaring example, in 1973 and 2002, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and World Health Organization (WHO) declared that homosexual persons have no psychological problem and same sex activity is also natural, and not abnormal or a psychiatric disorder. And also in 1996 researcher Simon Lay Vay of Kinsy Institute base in USA produced the different brain between straight men and gay men. So, let them live in our society as we live.

(Everyone is equal before the law, no one should discriminate and inject violence to any other people and communities)

* Maimom Ranjit (Inao) Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 29, 2012 and later updated with grammatical and sentence correction on May 30 2012.

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