Bharat Kaushik is a gender justice activist who is working for the betterment of transgender people in Bihar. In this piece, FII author Arina Alam, speaks with him about his work in the field.
One of Bharat Kaushik’s initiatives is Transgender Model Magazine. It is an online magazine he started three months ago and on this, he profiles talent from the trans community and displays them to the magazine’s audience.
He wants everyone to support him in his activism, even those who may oppose him for personal reasons but not his work. In his words, “At the end of it all, we want transgender welfare. We shouldn’t indulge in politics for personal benefit. What we really need is to care about the strengthening the community”.
Here is a short conversation with Bharat Kaushik.
AA: Please tell me a little about yourself to share with our readers.
Bharat Kaushik: I have done my postgraduate studies in Sociology at Patna University. I went to Delhi to study and started my career as a theatre artist in Apte JNU. I have been blessed with the opportunity to act with the actress Swara Bhaskar. I also did some work there as a social activist.
AA: What inspires you to work for the trans community?
BK: When I returned to Patna I started working for an organization advocating for the rights of disabled persons. This was the time I was introduced to the lives of transgender people. I made a documentary titled Veera – The Untold Story.
Veera was the first transgender woman to be admitted to Patna University. In my conversation with Veera, I came to the realization that the trans community is one of the most oppressed and exploited sections of our society. The abuse of transgender people begins in the privacy of their families and becomes public as they enter society.
My heart aches over how awful the discrimination against the community is. I am determined to work hard for the rights of trans people so they can participate equally in society as well as have their right to work.
The abuse of transgender people begins in their families and becomes public as they enter society.
AA: Tell me something about your initiative, Transgender Model Magazine. How do you think it going to help the trans community?
BK: Transgender Model Magazine is an online publication designed to serve the transgender community. Its goal is to enhance the welfare of trans people by helping them get work and be respected at work.
We want to encourage the inclusion of trans people in every sector of society. Our magazine aims to enhance chances of transgender people to be included in sectors like cinema, art, culture, music, dance, education, etc.
Through our magazine, we introduce society to the talents and skills of transgender people. We hope it will inspire people to hire trans people in accordance with their talents and skills. I personally encourage people I know to think about hiring trans people.
I have a channel named ‘Bharat Kaushik’ and a production company to make videos on transgender issues. The channel is an effective way to present them to a larger audience.
AA: What do you think about Launda Naach in Bihar?
BK: This is very controversial. The word launda implies ‘boy’ but there are many transgender women getting their bread and butter with launda dance. Trans people from different states, not just Bihar, come here and to Uttar Pradesh for working as dancers.
The wages for this type of work are decent but it is risky work. Trans women often face sexual harassment in this type of work. Many trans women are still unemployed. Transphobia is still present in our society. So trans people still are not hired in regular jobs. They are forced to work as dancers and entertainers.
AA: What do you think about the Trans Bill of 2016?
BK: I think it is a very problematic bill. It will harm the trans community. It will snatch away the right of gender self-identification. I think transgender people should have the same rights to assert their gender identity as cis people do.
Trans people should not have to justify their gender identity. Also, the bill criminalizes some of the common livelihoods of trans people without providing them with alternative opportunities.
The bill gives a faulty definition of transgender. This bill needs to be stopped. We held a candlelight march in protest against it in Gandhi Maidan. We organized a public discussion on the bill and had people from different states participating.
Trans Bill 2016 criminalizes common livelihoods of trans people without providing them with alternative opportunities.
AA: What difficulties are you facing in your activism?
BK: Of course there is a funding problem. But what hurts most is people’s attitudes. When I first started to work I thought everyone would help me understand the community so that I could do good work for trans people.
I thought I would be supported, advised and loved. Though I have received more than enough love from the trans community, I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams that some people would threaten to harm me physically to make me stop my activism just because of my gender.
If they don’t like my activism, they can criticise me. But I will go on with my activism no matter what challenges come my way. I am working hard and will continue to work hard for the community.
AA: What do you think must be done for the betterment of the community?
BK: The implementation of NALSA Judgement, 2014 is essential for the betterment of trans community.