'Phaneks' distributed to trans women as symbol of acceptance and encouragement in Manipur
Transgender Day of Visibility: The symbolic event “Emagi Phanek”, which aims to retrieve the kinship of Manipur indigenous women and Nupi Maanbis, was held at the All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association, Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII) and Empowering Trans Ability (ETA) office in New Checkon, Imphal East.
ByB Rakesh Sharma
Updated 1 Apr 2022, 6:30 am
As a symbol of acceptance and encouragement of the trans women (Nupi Maanbis) in the Manipuri society, used Phaneks (traditional wrap-around worn by women folks), which were earlier worn by prominent mothers of the state, were distributed to trans women of Manipur on Thursday as a part of the observance of “Transgender Day of Visibility.”
The distributed Phaneks were already worn by prominent mothers of Manipur and they were collected by different allies. Phanek is a symbolic traditional attire of Manipuri women, carrying a traditional value that is associated with the symbol of strength, courage, protection and sacrifices.
The symbolic event “Emagi Phanek”, which aims to retrieve the kinship of Manipur indigenous women and Nupi Maanbis, was held at the All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association, Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII) and Empowering Trans Ability (ETA) office in New Checkon, Imphal East.
The significance of distributing the Phanek, used earlier by mothers, is 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 told the media.
Stating that the enthusiasm coined with the trust that convinced those mothers to present their Phanek to Nupi Maanbi is a sign of encouragement and acceptance, she said, adding that it would definitely encourage the Nupi Maanbis when they wear it.
Santa pointed out that the instant knowledge of women when they realised their gender identity is from their mother make 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 social perception and belief that are bound to Phanek and because of such barriers, Nupi Maanbis are carrying the longingness 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.
Their 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 that we felt disappointed is the way people do not treat us as a native of this land. The crux of many violence cases is related to our body and dressing which does not conform to the social norms,” she said.
The secretary also pointed out the emergence of all forms of violence to Nupi Maanbi correlated with strict social gender binaries that project nupi maanbi as an unconventional social entity and called out for the need to encourage Nupi Maanbi gender identity by the 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, added Shanta.
Phanek is considered the origin of many stories and respected, she said, questioning, “Does Nupi Maanbi have no share in the story and respect? Is the phanek worn by Nupi Maanbi not a phanek?”
The support that AMANA received today from a few mothers would definitely help many Nupi Maanbi to come out and articulate their freedom to expression in the Manipuri society, the secretary added.
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.
First published:31 Mar 2022, 3:07 pm
phaneksanta khuraiamaanatrans womennupi maanbi
B Rakesh Sharma
Staff Reporter, Imphal
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