UNAIDS is releasing the Mirror on the International Transgender Day of Visibility. Gender diversity is not a lifestyle choice but an inherent right of all people. Gender stereotypes, especially towards LGBTI people, lead to stigma and discrimination. This is more pronounced in children and adolescents, as diversity among them is not commonly understood and society puts massive pressure on them to conform to their assigned gender norms.
The film, the Mirror, portrays a young boy who is pouting and opts out of playing with other children during an Indian kite festival. His mother eggs him on, but he sneaks off downstairs alone. He drapes himself in a woman’s scarf and smiles as he sees his reflection in a mirror.
Moments later, his mother and his grandmother catch him dancing dressed up. The music stops and the women stare at the boy. A few seconds of dread pass by and suddenly the women join him.
“You see, this story plays out on many levels,” Ms Bhattacharya said. “The broad point is we have to accept children as they are and, in this case, build up their confidence.” She pointed to the fact that 98% of transgender people in India leave their homes or are thrown out. Inevitably, many live on the street with no money or education, often relying on sex work.
“Visibility is also an important thing,” the long-time advertising executive said. “Either you dislike the body you live in or you hate the society that you live in.” She wanted to capture the pivotal moment of self-recognition. Often, she explained, we look at children as our projects and want to make them extrovert and studious and obedient, refusing to see them for who they are and how they want to grow up.
“I wanted to show how they (transgender people) are seeing what they want to see and not the way the world sees them,” Ms Bhattacharya said.
Learn more about the TDOV 2021 Campaign.