Be it apocalyptic wildfires, inundating cyclones, or an unabating pandemic, it is 2020 and nothing surprises and scares us anymore. And yet there's an element of surprise and much amusement in it when you hear that Chetan Bhagat is a murder mystery writer now! Yup, he announced his upcoming book, titled One Arranged Murder, earlier in August and has been busy in its marketing campaign since then.
Sadly, Bhagat and controversies have a way of following each other, mostly, 'coz of an innate tone-deafness on his part. All this while, both Chetan and the publication house associated with the book's distribution have been engaging in pulp marketing for his pulp fiction and duly exploiting the current outrage and controversy around Sushant Singh Rajput's tragic demise.
Amid a slew of similar problematic posts, Chetan Bhagat yesterday took to his social media and posted a rather transphobic image for the purpose of marketing. In the image, Bhagat has pitched his book as the perfect antidote to what he thinks of as 'stupid' content. Firstly, bold of Chetan to call someone else's content 'stupid' given the entire work he has done so far. But then again this is the kind of tone-deafness we have been talking about. His interpretation of the 'stupid' idea features images of drag performers or what might have appeared like men dressed up as women to Bhagat.
While Bhagat has been effectively blinded by his transphobia, my mind actually goes to a trans friend who hasn't come out to her family yet. She often posts pictures of herself in jewelry with a stubble showing underneath because she has to project herself as a 'man' in front of the family later. In fact, she just moved to Jaipur amid the pandemic crisis and had to crop her long, beautiful traces for the same reason.
Now, there are a few questions that we need to ask from Chetan: what makes this content 'stupid'? The writer has clearly failed to realise here that what has been projected by him as 'stupid' is called drag and there's nothing wrong with it. Also, it is a means of expression for so many trans folks out there including the ones who aren't fully out of the closet, are not willing to go for a gender transformation surgery, or just simply don't have the resources to do so.
The need here is to recognise that gender dysphoria in itself is a very difficult space to be in. Add to it the fact that, individuals trying to find their expression and real self while navigating this dysphoria are ridiculed with words like 'chakka' or like in Bhagat's case called 'stupid' on a daily basis. Of course, Bhagat can hardly see that effectively blinded by his own transphobia. Really, all you need here is a little sensitivity and just enough conscience to trash such marketing campaigns and views when they are pitched to you. But then again, it is perhaps asking too much from a man who is delusional enough to equate all the wait and anticipations for a COVID-19 vaccine with his book:
Now, while the post has been taken down from Bhagat's social media feed, there hasn't been any official apology or even acknowledgment of the huge omission on his part. Perhaps that wasn't considered necessary on his part given that the post went mostly unobserved and unscrutinised.
Earlier this year, Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling found herself in a serious controversy after making an extremely transphobic remark on Twitter and then going to crazy lengths just to defend it in the most problematic ways possible.
Thus comes our biggest question: how would this situation ever get rectified while the best selling authors across the world keep amplifying their own transphobia? Honestly, we have had enough of so-called 'intellectuals' getting away with their blatant homophobia and transphobia. We ask for accountability here and Bhagat's apology to the trans community sounds like a great starting point here. We hope this message keeps getting amplified until the writer takes notice.
Featured Image: Instagram