Seema, 33, displays his picture in which he’s dressed as a woman at his residence in New Delhi. Seema is transgender, one of hundreds of thousands in conservative India who are ostracised, often abused and forced into prostitution due to a lack of legal recognition.
Nov 20 is an important date in the calendar of lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender community around the world, for it's been designated the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist and activist, in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman and victim of sexual discrimination who was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts, with the aim of eliminating social stigma, discrimination and gender-based violence against such people.
Hester's murder brought human rights organisations together to campaign for improved transgender rights. There have been a number of cases of violence and murder involving transgender people since 1970 and, according to www.wipeouttransphobia.com, every 72 hours a transgender person is a victim of hate crime or murder. Thailand may not have an official list on this count since the database of criminal cases is only available in two categories: male and female.
Rena Janamnuaysook, a policy officer at Global Action for Trans* Equality, has expressed concern over access to healthcare services for transgender people, saying a certain bias exists against them at government-run hospitals, denying these people adequate or prompt medical treatment, and this at times can be life threatening.
According to the Thai Transgender Alliance (ThaiTGA), discrimination manifests itself in various forms, not just physical violence, of which the most conspicuous is social ostracism as many still believe transgender people are afflicted with a mental disorder. There is no law guaranteeing equal treatment while they face sexual harassment, denied equal employment opportunities or access to education, and are sometimes rejected even by their own family. It is currently working with Transgender Europe and advocacy groups from 130 countries to get these wrongs righted.