Imphal, March 13: As Manipur Elections took a great toll into the hearts and minds of thousands of people who either contested for elections or most importantly voted, the ascent of BJP into the CM’s throne came in as a great surprise for many while others already anticipated their victory. Amidst the hullabaloo of Election anxiety, one person was silently creating a revolution, celebrating the victory of womanhood while playing an important role as a voter in Manipur Election 2017.
Nandeibam Sandeep Singh, popularly known as Sandra Serto Nandeibam voted for the first time in this Elections from Yaiskul Kendra (Constituency), Manipur. Sandra just turned 18 years of age and, like any other first time voters, remained very excited for the day to arrive, the day when she would cast a significant vote for choosing the CM of Manipur. But, what sets her apart from others is not that she was a first time voter, but the fact that the election Commission of India recognized her as a woman. This is probably one of the few instances in the state of Manipur when a trans person has been recognized as a woman by the ECI, that too without any complications.
On March 4, 2017, when Manipur went for the 1st phase of elections, an ecstatic Sandra was seen expressing herself:
“It was my first voting experienced as I have completed 18 Yrs now academically. While I was applying for the voter’s card, the officials had recognized me as female, what I wish to be, despite being born a male. But still I assert my name identity as before though I am popularly known as Sandra Nandeibam. One’s name identity does not define one’s gender. I can be called Tomba, Chaoba, Chaobi, Thoiba, Thoibi and whatsoever. And I still love my name because it was given to me by my beloved parents and my teachers and this name is very dear to me.
I had a dilemma to stand in women’s queue even though the officials of ECI and I identify myself as a female or as transwoman. However I stood in women’s entry point fearlessly with full of pride and self respect. It felt like a rebirth when I was accepted as a woman officially, socially, emotionally and biologically in its initial stage.
Lets stop Transphobia and implement Supreme Court’s NALSA judgement recognizing all transgenders as male, female or as a third gender in the state of Manipur”
Manipur has seen a lot of talent rising from its haven and some influential names that have brought laurels to the state belong to those of trans persons. Be it Bishesh Huirem, the Manipuri artist who represented India in Thailand for the world pageant, Miss International Queen 2017, Santa Khurai, a trans activist who is actively fighting against trans phobia through her NGO named All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association or even Sandra Nandeibam, the only trans model to grace the ramp at Garnier Fashion Weekend.
Since times immemorial, the existence of trans people have played a significant role, even in the making of India’s history and yet, as we progressed through the ages, the acceptance of this group of persons never really seemed to percolate into our minds and hearts. Trans phobia is not a natural phenomena, it is a stigma that some closed minded, un-embracing persons created in order to manifest discrimination against another human. It is like the practice of ‘Apartheid’- a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and 1991, when it was abolished.
Trans phobia may not be as systematic and institutionalized like the practice of Apartheid, but it is still a practice that has segregated a significant population without any fault of theirs. Sandra has silently created a revolution in the minds of people against ‘Trans phobia’, its time we do too.
-By Shweta Raj Kanwar for TNT-The Northeast Today
The writer can be contacted at shweta@thenortheasttoday,com
Picture Courtesy: Sandra Serto Nandeibam’s Facebook Page