Transgender artists exhibit their artworks at the Central University of Tamil Nadu. Photo: CUTN

 In India, where same-sex marriage is still illegal, transgenders are, more often than not, viewed as sex workers or people clapping for alms on busy streets. To challenge these stereotypes, a group of transsexuals has revealed their creative side in an art exhibition at the Central University of Tamil Nadu.

The Trans Art Show, organized by the department of media and communications along with the university’s Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) on July 28 and 29, was intended to show that transsexuals deserve to lead dignified lives as much as anyone else.

Vice Chancellor A P Dash and transgender activist Kalki Subramaniam inspect the art artworks at the Trans Art Show organised by CUTN. Photo: CUTN

At the exhibition, over 40 artworks created by transsexuals were on display, and about 1,500 students and faculty members came to view them.

“Transgenders are one of the most marginalized and oppressed sections in India. Over 60% of them are school dropouts. And a majority of them are unemployed and forced to follow an unwished path to survive. This exhibition will be an eye-opener and will aid their struggle for equality,” said Professor A P Dash, the university’s vice chancellor.

Transgender artists exhibit their work. Photo: CUTN

Kalki Subramaniam,a  transgender activist, actor, author and founder of the Sahodari Foundation, which works for the social, economic and political empowerment of transgender people in India, initiated a project to encourage transgender people to use painting as a medium to express their untold emotions and create an economic opportunity that allows them to lead more dignified lives.

“This is the first time an educational institution is hosting a show of artworks created by transgender artists,” Dr Francis P Barclay, head of the media and communications department, told Asia Times.

Transgender artists exhibit their artworks at Central University of Tamil Nadu. Photo: CUTN

Kalki said, “An artist may die, but his/her art doesn’t. The emotions and thoughts of the transgender artists will live on forever through their art works that are put on display here.”