So Laxmmi Bomb's (name changed to Laxmii now) new song Bam Bholle just dropped and as per certain media reports, the netizens 'are in awe.' The song features Akshay Kumar in his trans avatar for the film and he looks just like any other stereotypical trans person as shown in the Indian cinema. With an overtly masculine body language and a lot of chest-beating, Akshay has done exactly what every other man who ever played a trans woman in an Indian movie has done.
That must suffice to say that we aren't impressed at all. We are in fact shocked that from Ashutosh Rana as the child-abducting trans woman in Sangarsh to Akshay Kumar in Laxmii, the trans trope as projected in the Indian films hasn't changed even one bit. It is rather disappointing that the Indian film industry has absolutely failed to take cognizance of all the trans struggles in the past two decades or so and how hard they have been working to subvert this problematic stereotype.
But more than that, it is a grave mistake especially in a country where the Transgender persons (protection of life) bill fails to recognise and identify the varying identities of trans and intersex people in India. Well, we'd like to pop the Indian filmmakers' bubble here and tell them that trans folks just like cis folks come in all shapes and sizes. Just like you cannot make all men in all the films look like one particular actor (say Akshay Kumar), you can not keep recycling the same trans imagery to us one film after another.
But given that all of these filmmakers work through a visual medium, let's talk to them in pictures and educate them about what trans people look like. Read on:
India’s first openly transgender plus-size model, Mona Varonica Campbell is a success story unlike any other. All thanks to a family that supported her through it all and a fierce will. From a very young age, Mona aimed to conquer the world and for that, she decided to pursue her education from some of the best fashion institutions (National Institute of Fashion Technology and London School of Fashion) in the world.
To date, she has worked with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, Wendell Rodricks. But wait for it, she also holds a doctorate degree in Public Administration from Stanford University. Oh, and she is also a luxury hotel and lifestyle influencer who will totally have you smitten by her ultra-glam Instagram feed.
The first openly transgender college principal in India, Dr Manabi Bandyopadhyay has her own characteristic style. Just like any other college professor in India, she loves her cotton sarees as much she loves that trademark flower that she almost never misses out on.
A lawyer by profession, Aryan Pasha happens to be the first Indian transman to win a prize at a bodybuilding event. In 2018, he stood second in the Men’s Physique (short) category of Musclemania India and totally looks the part with the kind of muscles that will absolutely make your eyes pop.
A Bengaluru based writer and activist, A. Revathi has a story wrought with struggles and violence. And yet you wouldn't be able to tell that when you meet her, all thanks to that friendly smile and a presence so warm that you'd be automatically drawn to her. She has written some of the most path-breaking books pertaining to LGBTQ+ literature in India, has been associated with a number of NGOs for the queer folks' upliftment, and generally prefers to dress up just like any other middle-class mom in India. A simple saree, a half sleeves blouse, and a red bindi is what comprises her signature style.
It was shortly after her appearance on MTV Splitsvilla that Gauri decided to go for a sex reassignment surgery. And the transformation that has followed is something to talk about. A certified nutritionist, Gauri easily happens to be one of the fittest Instagram models in India and can easily give Bollywood actresses a run for their money with her killer looks.
Writer, speaker, and an absolute fashionista, Alok Vaid Menon is literally subversion personified. They refuse to abide by gender stereotypes and use their words and fashion to stage subversion wherever they go. While Alok would have you absolutely moved with their impactful words, they can also give you some solid colour blocking inspiration with fashion choices that are as rad and fun as they can get.
Indian's first transgender actress, Anjali Ameer is here to give an important message: yes, it is okay for cis people to take trans roles as long as a similar percentage of trans people like her get to play cis roles. She is also a shining example of how trans people are as talented as anyone else and thus deserves equal opportunities in all the fields. That said, Anjali looks like any other South Indian actress and is an absolute vision in her kasavu sarees and gajras, a look that she really adores and often gets clicked in.
To conclude, trans people, just like cis people aren't a uniform lot. You can't just keep creating the same stock character time and again and tell us that this is what a trans person should look like. A trans person can look like literally anyone and it would be amazing if the Indian filmmakers could wake up from their oblivious slumber. It's high time!
Featured Image: Instagram