LGBTQ and intersex communities in Pakistan forge ahead
In the age of the internet, new influencers are becoming famous every day. Some dance to someone else’s songs for the audience. Some talk about different gadgets, while others use the platform to create a powerful impact on society.
The transgender community in Asia continues to become more visible, but it still has a long way to go. Local trans icons who have risen to fame online are using their influence to raise awareness of the trans community among their fans and in their respective countries.
Kaede Sari, a Japanese architect, fights to raise awareness of trans people in her country and change society’s perspective on trans people as mere entertainment.
She released a documentary, “You Decide”, in July 2020, based on her life. The idea was to raise awareness of trans people in Japan and inspire other trans people in the country. The documentary was available in select theaters and on Netflix Japan.
“I continued to disseminate information, especially to students and families, as well as employers and corporate staff,” Sari said in a statement to The Washington Blade. “However, society is always changing. Some trans people may not be able to come out based on their position. I want to tell them, ‘You don’t have to go out until the environment is ready. Until we change the whole society, please find a reliable person (to whom you) can come out. And please be a trustworthy person to receive the output of many people.
The trans community has been an integral and generally accepted part of Japanese culture since the Edo period from 1603 to 1868.
Japan in the late 1800s went from a country that accepted gender fluidity to one that embraced Western binary gender norms. The trans community in Japan now regularly faces humiliation, misunderstanding and discrimination.
Japanese law stipulates that a person must show their ID – which often has a gender identity marker – when accessing education, health, transportation and other services. Authorities often ask invasive questions if a trans person’s photo doesn’t match their gender marker on the ID card.
Sari told The Blade that she wanted to come out after finishing school, finding a job or moving into a new house.
She left just before she started looking for a job. Sari said her trans friends either dropped out of school or decided not to go out.
“In Asia, many countries, including Japan, are conservative when it comes to change, and policies for LGBT (people) only spread to limited areas,” Sari said. “There are two steps to changing those who disagree with LGBT. “The LGBT understanding stage” and “LGBT acceptance stage”. I think we are at the understanding stage now, so please get the right knowledge.
China, like Japan, has a long relationship with the trans community, but the crackdown on them is real. Cross-cultural icons in China are fighting to change the narrative and the situation at home and abroad.
Fan Popo, a Chinese filmmaker and LGBTQ and intersex activist, works to change attitudes towards the country’s trans community through films and documentaries.
Popo is known for his iconic documentary “Mama Rainbow”, which inspired many LGBTQ and intersex people in China. The film attracted significant Internet viewership in China and sparked public debate about the queer community. It has since disappeared from Youku, Tudou, 56.com and other popular Chinese streaming services.
Popo launched a fierce legal battle with China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the fight resulted in a partial victory in 2015.
He continues to make LGBTQ-focused films to raise awareness about China and overseas Chinese.
Popo moved to Germany in 2017 and is currently working on a first fiction film. While chatting with The Blade, he said the film was important to him because he felt he hadn’t done enough for the queer community and wanted to contribute more to the community in the years to come.
“Since moving to Germany, I have faced systematic racism. There are few resources available for people of color,” Popo said. “What my colleagues in China have to deal with affects me. also, so I feel frustrated and in danger. Another difficulty I’m facing right now is going back to China because of the restrictions. »
Despite all the struggles, Popo had a huge impact on his fans in China and around the world.
Her creativity and films have historically inspired the trans community. He made six films, and his last film was “Beer! Beer!” in 2020.
In India, the trans community has historical ties to traditional Indian culture.
According to scholars and ancient Indian texts, the trans community garnered respect, but things changed once the British colonized the country.
Section 377 of India’s colonial-era Penal Code, which came into force in 1861, criminalizes homosexuality. India’s Supreme Court in 2018 struck down the discriminatory law, but more than 200 years of British colonial rule has caused Indian society to become discriminatory against trans people.
To raise awareness among trans Indians, trans icons use their social media platforms and create a positive impact on society.
Sushant Divgikar is an Indian model, actor, singer, drag queen and motivational speaker who won Mr. Gay India in 2014. With 1.8 million Instagram followers, Divgikar has raised awareness for the country’s trans community.
“The transgender community shared a very beautiful status in the context of Indian cultural history in the pre-colonial area. Afterwards, things changed because the British had very narrow ideas about the queer community. They talk about how the British divided and ruled the country based on caste, but they don’t talk about how British rule divided the country based on gender diversity,” Divgikar told the Blade. . “For the past 16 and a half years I’ve performed as a drag queen, actor, model and motivational speaker, so sure it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I never imagined it any other way. If I hadn’t struggled so much, I wouldn’t have known what I have today and what I don’t have.
Divgikar since 2012 has appeared in many TV shows and participated in many competitions. They also use Instagram to talk about the queer community and start a public discussion. Divgikar has inspired many fans with her inspirational posts and stories.
Divgikar in 2020 appeared on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
“Back when people weren’t ready to talk about their orientation, I was on TV, risking my life because I used to get death threats, I used to to receive rape threats. When I was younger I was frustrated because of the threats, but now I feel bad for them,” they said. “They are the ones who really need a big hug and therapy. I don’t mind paying for their therapy.
Divgikar also talked about their appearance on the third largest billboard in Times Square in New York for an entire month.
While speaking with Blade, Divgikar said trans Indians feel represented when they see them on big stages. Divgikar is proud to represent all Asians, and especially trans Indians, on the world stage.
“When you hurt another person, you don’t just hurt that person,” Divgikar said of hate crimes against the trans community in Asia. “You are killing all of humanity.”
Ankush Kumar (Mohit) is a freelance journalist who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He’s on Twitter at @mohitkopinion.