Chennai-based LGBTQ researcher speaks about transpersons’ portrayal in movies

Rashmi

Chennai: As a society, there is so much to ‘unlearn’ about the LGBTQ community. This is what Rashmi, a researcher in Chrompet, says.

A music teacher by profession, Rashmi has been working on homosexuality and its representation in cinema.

Speaking to this paper, she says, “It all started with just curiosity. I was working as a faculty member in a college, when there was an uproar about legalising homosexuality. That is when I wanted to know more about it.”

“I started analysing movies from 2009 to 2019, and looked into how they portrayed or stereotyped transpersons. A lot of people worship heroes and learn from cinema. But here, most of the movies misrepresent facts.”

“When I started my research, I met a transperson over a cup of coffee. To begin the conversation, I asked her, ‘what are the problems you face?.”

“She questioned me as to what made me think that she would be facing problems. It was an eye-opener. That is when I realised, that they don’t want anyone’s sympathy. They just want to be normalised.”

Speaking about misrepresentation of transexual people in movies, Rashmi states, “In a film that was released sometime back, the female lead will be accompanied by a transperson throughout. It was quite a strong character. But she was referred to as ‘adhu’ all the time. Why can’t they give her a proper pronoun?”

:I would suggest that, a person from the LGBTQ community be a part of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), so that they can verify if the movie conforms to their community guidelines,” she notes.

On how to tackle homophobia, she says, “All I can say is learn to unlearn. Talk to different people. Empathise. Try knowing their lifestyle, their everyday problems. We’re all humans and can be nice to each other. Nobody can judge anybody. When I started the research, I was hesitant to approach people, as I was scared that I might offend them. But as soon as I started working on it, I learnt a lot. I made good friends and my perspectives widened. Now, I don’t feel like an outsider.”

M Anandavalli