Why do we find it so difficult to break stereotypes? It’s a question I have asked myself many times. We, as a nation of believers, like to have our own opinion of the world around us. Sadly, most of that opinion is shaped by a need for conformity, a desire for acceptability, manifested contemporarily as an itch for “likes” on a picture, a habit of appearing politically acceptable, of “networking” and “creating contacts” in today’s hyper-connected world of super-globalisation. If we think about it, it’s easy to see what we left behind. There are no moral underpinnings to our behaviour, no value strings attached that can hold our actions upright. In such a constraining and compromising environment, it is no surprise that it becomes all the more difficult to come out of the stereotypes we as a society have bathed in, since centuries together.
Staring at a black African more stingingly than deserved, with that enquiring, revelatory look which we give to a giant panda we see for the first time in a zoo, is a common sight in our great country. Little do we realise that if it’s fascination for us, it’s humiliation and degradation for the other person. Walking the streets of Mumbai, or exploring the mohallas of Delhi, or strolling through the alleys of Kolkata, he is badly discriminated against, again and again, so much that he turns inwards. He is frightened to talk to people, as anyone he tries to approach is already staring at him with panic, or mildly disguised disgust. In a nation of brown skins all around, although not much different from them, the guy with the black skin becomes a loner. People say, yeah, see I told you, those niggers are not to be trusted. They keep to themselves, always devising a devious plan to rob you, rape you or kill you. Beware! And the stereotype continues.
The same can be said about the transgender community. There are fears propagated, since millennia, in the Indian society and a strict direction to stay away from them. We look at them in disgust, always wondering why they don’t have anything better to do than pestering us when we're going to the office, or persecuting us when we are travelling on the train (Gosh! There’s nowhere to escape! It’s dreadful!), or pushing their hand towards our face when the auto-rickshaw we are in has stopped at a signal. We do not want to realise that they do not have a single profession to look towards, as for all of those professions, organised or unorganised, transgenders do not exist at all! They get no employee benefits and are forced to look at “immoral” vocations like prostitution, beggary or whatever we call the confronting-and-asking-money-on-the-train. This very act of theirs further cements our stereotype. See I told you. They are not human beings. Stay away from them or they will rob you, rape you or kill you!
The link to the pic above: