Next week India will play host to what is thought to be the first-ever all-transgender track meet. The state of Kerala will play host to the event. Kerala has been ahead of the curve on trans issues in India, in 2015 creating a statewide policy on transgender inclusion.
This track meet is a direct result of that policy, which aims to undermine the social stigma of transgender people, called hijra in India, according to the Hindustan Times.
Trans acceptance in India is hit-or-miss, much like it is in the United States. The Supreme Court of India handed down a strikingly pro-trans decision in 2014, and earlier this year the Federal government said trans people must be allowed to use the restrooms of their choice.
The empowering element of this event was on display in an article by Sportskeeda:
Shyama S, a member of organising committee, is a transgender and it has been eight years since she left school and for the first time in her life, she will get a chance to display her skills in an official event.
“Why do you run like a woman? This was a common question encountered by many of us and fear of mockery forces us to stay away from sports days in schools and colleges. Even though we have made our presence felt in cultural spaces and showcased our talents like in mimicry, mono acts and dance and so on, we were never given any platform to explore and experience our skills in sports until now. This event will be a revival for many including me,” said 25-year old Shyama.
Thank you to the state of Kerala for making this possible, and good luck to all the competitors!