Kolkata: India’s first government-sponsored poetry meet for transgenders--‘Transgender Poets' Meet’-- is set to be held in Kolkata on July 17.
Six transgender poets and writers from West Bengal will be participating in the event, organised by Sahitya Akademi, an organization under the Union Culture Ministry.
Among those who are likely to participate in the meet are Rani Majumder, Aruna Nath, Anjali Mandal, Debdutta Biswas and Debojyoti Bhattacharya.
The idea to hold the event was put forward by Manabi Bandopadhyay, who is a college principal and a trans-woman. “We had organised Nari Chetana (Women Empowerment) Diwas on International Women’s Day. Dr Manabi Bandopadhyay suggested that we should consider organizing exclusive events for transgender writers and poets,” said Mihir Sahu, officer-in-charge, Eastern Region, Sahitya Akademi.
Speaking to News18 Manabi Bandopadhyay said, “As a member of the advisory board of the eastern regional centre of Sahitya Akademi, I suggested that such events for transgender persons will help them to showcase their creativity. We are doing this on an experimental basis and I am sure we will get a good response.”
However, transgender activist Ranjita Sinha, who is also a member of the Bengal Transgender Development Board opposed the move and claimed that such events with a handful of transgender people would hardly enable the community establish their dignity in society.
“I was shocked when I came to know about this. I am sorry for my trans-brothers and sisters across Bengal. Since the NALSA verdict, we have failed to ensure basic human rights to the members of my community. Be it medical, employment generation or proper census of my community population, we have failed," she said.
Sinha said that such literary festivals mocked the transgenders when less than one per cent of them are unable to attain basic education.
She also expressed her displeasure over Manabi leading the event. “I am equally shocked to know that our Vice Chairperson, Manabi, is taking the lead in this event. Is such an event is the current need of trans people? Or is it Roti, Kapda, Makan? In the coming days the starving, deprived, discriminated trans citizens are going to ask for an answer to this question,” said Sinha.