Sign of acceptance breaks through social stigma faced by transgender in Manipuri society

Amid the discrimination faced by transgender, a sign of acceptance and encouragement was visible as the Transgender Day of Visibility was observed in Imphal on Wednesday.

ByB Rakesh Sharma

Updated 2 Apr 2022, 12:09 pm

AMANA secretary and rights activist Shanta Khurai (R) (Photo: IFP)
AMANA secretary and rights activist Shanta Khurai (R) (Photo: IFP)


Trans men and women in Manipur continue to face social stigma and discrimination though the Supreme Court of India had declared transgender as 'Third Gender' and affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Indian Constitution will be equally applicable to them. However, a sign of acceptance and encouragement was visible during the Transgender Day of Visibility event held in Imphal on Wednesday.

One Sopin Lasishram from Moirang Purel, Imphal East, while narrating his story of struggle against the social stigma faced as a trans man to the Imphal Free Press, said, “discrimination faced by the third gender is not over yet.”

Sopin has been taking shelter at his friend’s house as he was not allocated his rightful land by his family members. He told the Imphal Free Press on the sidelines of the observance of “Transgender Day of Visibility” that during the COVID lockdown, he lived in a temporary shed near his house as his family members could not accept him as a transgender.

However, the scenario appears to be gradually changing as noted during the observance of “Transgender Day of Visibility” in Imphal. A symbolic event “Emagi Phanek” marked the observance.


During the “Emagi Phanek” event, Phanek, a symbolic traditional attire of Manipuri women, which were worn by prominent mothers of the state, were distributed to trans women of Manipur as a part of the observance of “Transgender Day of Visibility” on March 31, 2022.  This signifies acceptance and encouragement of trans women (Nupi Maanbis) in the Manipuri society.

Distribution of Phanek, used earlier by mothers, signifies the consent and willingness of those mothers who decided to give away the Phanek to Nupi Maanbi, AMANA (transgender's state level apex body) secretary Santa Khurai said.

 It may be mentioned that  Phanek holds a traditional value that is associated with the symbol of strength, courage, protection and sacrifices. And, the “Emagi Phanek” aims to retrieve the kinship of Manipur indigenous women and Nupi Maanbis.

Santa revealed that the instant women realised their gender identity it prompted them to wear their mother's phanek secretly. However, many Nupi Maanbi do not have the courage to express the aspiration to wear Phanek, she said, adding there are also barriers of social perception and belief that are associated with Phanek. Nupi Maanbis carry the desire to wear their mother’s phanek as a heavy burden inside them.

Shanta pointed out that Nupi Maanbi cannot own the Phanek and is prohibited from claiming ownership of the Phanek in the society as most of the mothers of Nupi Maanbi are not willing to share their worn Phanek with them. Earlier, Nupi Maanbi children have been punished in different violent forms and the violence and torture meted out is a reason of their feminine subjectivity and expressions, she added.

“Public humiliation, physical attack has been rampant and instead of intervening the incident has always intensified the violence. One unfortunate reality is the way people do not treat us as a native of this land. The crux of many cases of violence meted out to us is related to our body and dressing which does not conform to the social norms,” she said.


Pointing out the emergence of all forms of violence against Nupi Maanbi correlated with strict social gender binaries that project nupi maanbi as an unconventional social entity, she called out for the need to encourage Nupi Maanbi gender identity by women, especially the mothers.

When Nupi Maanbis get support and blessing from all women and mothers, the state can bring out many ideal Nupi Maanbi, Shanta added.

The support that AMANA received today from a few mothers would help many Nupi Maanbi to articulate their freedom of expression in the Manipuri society, she opined.

As per data of AMANA, there are around 4,000 trans women and trans men in Manipur (omitting data of some hill districts). As per the Manipur electoral roll of 2022 approved by the Election Commission of India, there are only 206 transgender in the list.

Meanwhile, All Transman Association Manipur (ATMA) founder president Diana Potsangbam alias Anna, who is also a filmmaker, speaking at his residence at Hodam Leirak in Imphal West, said that considering the unrest situation faced by the trans men in the society, ATMA was established in 2016 to redress the problem faced by the younger trans men.

Secretary of District Legal Services Authority, Imphal West, Heralata also said that transgender (third gender) has been recognised by the Indian legal system following a landmark judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2014. Transgender today have various rights and provisions given under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. While transgender are not fully free from criticism even after the implementation of the Act, the Act is a step forward for the transgender community, he said.


First published:


transgendershanta khuraitrans womenPhanekAMANANupi MaanbiDianatrans menTransgender Day of Visibility

B Rakesh Sharma

B Rakesh Sharma

Staff Reporter, Imphal


Top Stories

Loading data...

IFP Exclusive

Loading data...