The transgender community in Manipur today is fast progressing in different fields. Once engaged as mostly makeup artists, many of them are now spreading their wings in the field of arts, medical, engineering and sports among others.
Expressing solidarity to the transgender community in Manipur and to create awareness among the people on how the community is contributing to the society with their unique talents, the Queer Games Northeast 2021 was conducted in Imphal on March 26-27, the organisers said.
The fourth edition of the two-day sports event started with the lighting of torch by popular makeup artist, Jenny Khurai of the transgender community, and witnessed an exhibition match by the first and only queer football team of Manipur.
Speaking to Imphal Free Press, Jenny termed the organising of such queer games in the state a “good step” and said it will reduce social stigma and discrimination that the community has been facing for decades.
“Organising such queer sports events will create awareness in the society that transgender can contribute to the society other than being a makeup artist. It will also reduce social stigma and discrimination that the community has been facing for decades,” she said.
Social stigma and discrimination against the community by the society, even by the family members, have pushed many members of the transgender community to the extent of committing suicide.
Representing the transgender community, Jenny was the torchbearer of the event. “I am glad that I was invited to be the torch bearer for the event representing the transgender community,” she said.
While speaking to the Imphal Free Press, Jenny appealed to the transgender community to give focus on education, sports and other fields.
Meanwhile, Chaoba Wahengbam, one the squad members of the transgender football team, also spoke to the Imphal Free Press.
“I played handball by profession but being a transman, I feel hesitant to play among female category. Since I heard the news of launching a transgender football team (especially transmen), I joined the team and I am glad to play among the trans-community,” Chaoba Wahengbam said.
Chaoba said over 20 players are in the team. However, as there are no other transgender football team in the country, the exhibition football match was played with 7-A side by dividing among the 20 players.
“The team had played with a men’s local football club team and the transgender football team played a tough competition,” Chaoba said.
Sadam Hanjabam, founder of Ya_All, the organiser of the queer sports event, claimed that the football team is not only the first transgender football team in India but in the entire Asia. The first transgender football team in the world was launched in Brazil, he added.
Sadam said the main objectives of organising such queer sports event is to create awareness among society that transgender can be included in sports events. The society has started accepting the trans-community as a third gender and with the support from the society, the transgender has started contributing in the fields of medical, engineering and others.
Apart from Manipur, Sadam said, Ya_All, an inclusive organisation of youths, including LGBTQI+, had organised queer sports event in five different cities of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Nagaland and Sikkim.
Different states of the country have extended invitation for transgender football exhibition match, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and with financial constraint, the players were unable to show the exhibition match, he added.
With the COVID-19 situation slowly worsening again, only an exhibition match of the transgender football was played by the members of the transgender football players in Manipur at the event.
The team will try to compete with other transgender football at international level in the near future, Sadam added.