COVID-19, Caste Discrimination, And The Trans Community In India : A Conversation With Grace Banu

COVID-19 & The Trans Community In India

Grace Banu holding a mic and speaking. Illustration of plants and leaves covers the top right to bottom right of the image. Uneven strokes create a border for the image. Text on the image reads, "In conversation with Grace Banu"

This is an exerpt from RESURJ’s Blog, “COVID-19 & The Trans Community In India : A Conversation With Grace Banu”. To read the full post on RESURJ Blogs page, please visit the original link here.

“Queer liberation is not possible without the liberation of Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi (oppressed caste communities in India) communities. It is not possible without liberation of the trans community,” Grace Banu’s voice is filled with rage, resilience, and empathy, all at once.

Grace Banu is a Dalit trans rights activist and writer from India. “I am the first trans person engineer from the state of Tamil Nadu,” she proudly states, with a smile on her face.

According to the 2011 census, India is home to more than 4,90,000 transgender people. Yet, the community is fighting every single day for their basic rights, and this fight has only exacerbated since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic – especially for those who find themselves at the intersection of gender and caste. “Being a Dalit, Bahujan, or Adivasi trans person, everything is going to be a fight. We don’t have a peaceful life. We are fighting for it. We are fighting for peace, safety, and security,” Grace says.

The question arises: Why is it important to keep the intersection of gender and caste at the core of our advocacy while advocating for the rights of queer and trans community in India?

Why is it important to keep the intersection of gender and caste at the core of our advocacy while advocating for the rights of queer and trans community in India?

Despite millions of people being affected by caste and gender based atrocity and violence, the conversation around this intersection rarely finds voice in global spaces. “In India, and across the globe, people don’t want to know about the issue of caste. All the international platforms are completely occupied by savarna (dominant caste) people – be it the feminist movement, trans movement, queer movement, LGBTQIA+ movement, or any other oppressed community movement,” Grace continues, “The US is dealing with the issue of white supremacy. Similarly, in India, we are dealing with Brahminical or caste supremacy. This is why being a Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi trans person, we have to fight not just this patriarchal society, but also within our own communities – we have to fight within the queer movement, we have to fight with civil societies, and we have to fight within the feminist movement. Adding to this, we are also having to fight fascism.” “The solidarity that we have seen for Black Lives Matter across the globe, I want to see the same solidarity against caste based violence and atrocities. But unfortunately, when cases of caste-based atrocities happen, all the other major movements prefer keeping their silence,” says Grace.

The one thing that was true pre as well as post pandemic is this – one’s access to resources are dictated by their social identity and location. Even those resources which have the potential to save one’s life. If anything, the pandemic has made this truth even more concrete.

To read the full post on RESURJ Blogs page, please visit the original link here.

BY SUMAN SAURAV