In India, often the issues of queer women have had a history of getting sidelined without proper acknowledgment. Queer Women face dual oppression, first as a woman, second as a queer person. It becomes triple in the cases of Queer women from marginalized sections. Usually, whenever popular culture or media talk about LGBTQIA+ Community, they focus on the struggles of Gay men and that’s it.
Some people ignore the fact that queer women exist in India. The conversation around homosexuality needs a gendered perspective, the perspective of homosexual women or women who have homosexual or homoromantic attraction. Queer women since the beginning have remained a vital part of the struggle for equality.
Society still finds it hard to accept that two women can love each other. They still face the brunt of patriarchal sanctions more than anyone else in the community. Be it Trans women who have the pressure to transition and look “passing”, facing laws like TG Bill or women who are forcibly married to heterosexual men in the name of family honor.
Issues of Queer Women
In a society that constantly asks women to be ashamed of their sexuality and bodies, fighting for the very right to love or to exist is hard. Lesbians in villages are often harassed, ostracised and even chased out. Lesbians in cities face discrimination and harassment.
Being queer in itself is anti-patriarchy as the system of patriarchy works on heteronormativity. But it does not mean that Queer people cannot be sexist. The sexism within the community is prevalent and causes divisions and discriminatory practices. Many women’s groups have safe spaces for Queer Women and many queer women’ groups have ensured that queer women get their due in the movement. However, the major discourse of queer community revolves around men and it needs to be changed.
Issues like forced marriages, corrective rapes, conversion therapy, honor killings, etc. still affect the lives of queer individuals and women are one of the worst sufferers of these crimes. In a society that constantly asks women to be ashamed of their sexuality and bodies, fighting for the very right to love or to exist is hard. Lesbians in villages are often harassed, ostracized and even chased out. Lesbians in cities face discrimination and harassment. Trans women fear their safety and struggle with means of survival, Bisexual and Pansexual women face either getting fetishized or total erasure and Asexual women face denial.
The issues for Queer Women become worse day by day as crimes against women are rising day by day. Societal norms still impose the idea that women have to get married to a man in order to keep the society functional and to keep the bloodline of families alive.
Health Issues: Physical and Mental Health of Community Women
Sexual minority women are at a higher risk of mental health issues than heterosexual women. They constantly face stigma, discrimination, mockery, and harassment which risks their overall mental health. The overall outlook of mental health professionals across India is not queer-friendly which often adds up to their problems. Many clinics still claim to cure minority sexual orientations and this affects the lives of women of the community at a larger level.
Many trans women are often denied treatment for basic physical problems due to their gender identity. Asexual women are often told that they are just depressed for not feeling sexual attraction while Pan-Bi women are told that they are having hormonal issues.
Apart from conversion therapy clinics, various religious leaders and scholars treat their sexuality as a disease, often duping money from their families in order to cure them and often these “treatments” including harassing them, bullying them into submission.
At times their physiological health is also risked. Many gynecologists does not consider them sexually active if they aren’t having sex with a man. Thus, ignoring their sexual health. Many trans women are often denied treatment for basic physical problems due to their gender identity. Asexual women are often told that they are just depressed for not feeling sexual attraction while Pan-Bi women are told that they are having hormonal issues.
Sexual minority women also have to face denial if there is domestic violence or intimate partner violence because their relationship isn’t seen as essential as a heterosexual monogamous relationship.
Discrimination Within Society
Most of the women might have heard that they can be turned “straight” by having sex with guys. This is just a small part of the daily oppression that they face. Since homosexual marriages are not having any legal laws, registering them is an issue. Society still do not accept homosexual marriages between women.
Often Queer women struggle in finding places to live, applying for jobs and universities. Workplace harassment is more likely to happen if they are out of the closet. The transitioning period of Trans women is often the most difficult phase as the changes in their bodies are visible and people think of it as in excuse for harassment.
At the school level, the moral policing of girls makes queer girls feel alienated. They get bullied and policed by students and teachers alike. They are made to feel that they aren’t “normal” and they should be ashamed of themselves. This belief is common among college students too leading to various issues for queer women in university spaces.
Girls and women are more likely to be killed and disowned over their orientation and sexual identity (in the case of transwomen) by their families. It’s high time that Women from LGBTQIA+ community get their due and their rights. The struggle for them is still on and it is a long road to success in getting equal rights.
Featured Image Source: India Today