Tashi Choedup, a transgender Buddhist monastic, is working to spread awareness about gender identity in India. Choedup, 30, uses the pronouns they/their and she/her as part of their non-binary gender identity.
Speaking on gender identity, Choedup noted that people who are homosexual or trans do not just wake up one day and realize their gender identity, but generally are aware of it from a young age: “We do not choose to be who we are; we are just who we are.” (Telangana Today)
Like others growing up in the LGBTIQ community, Choedup learned about gender and sexuality from the internet and faced misunderstandings from those around them, including the Buddhist monastic community when they began spending time with Buddhists.
“I have engaged with different faiths and got introduced to Buddhism as well. When I started studying and engaging with Buddhism more, it made sense to me,” Choedup said. Nonetheless, Choedup had to slowly introduce ideas about queer identity to Buddhist monastics. (Telangana Today)
Noting the current state of LGBTIQ in the Indian state of Telangana, Choedup praised the efforts of some local politicians, saying, “A few bureaucrats in our state have been actively working for the community in recent times and the state government has also come up with some initiatives. But a lot more needs to be done.” (Telangana Today)
In April, the director general of police for Telangana, Mudireddy Mahendar Reddy, inaugurated “Pride Place,” an LGBTIQ protection group for the state. The police group will be tasked specifically with ensuring the safety and security of transgender people.
Speaking at the inauguration, Reddy said: “The cell will act as a one-stop solution for trans people in the state by offering police and other services through networking and collaboration with other stakeholders.” (The Siasat Daily)
The move follows the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019, which calls on all Indian states to create transgender protection cells and to track violence against transgender persons. Choedup was among those participating in the inauguration and welcoming the initiative.
Choedup is part of the Queer and Trans Wellness and Support Centre (QT Centre), based in Hyderabad, which provides housing for queer people in need.
“The QT Centre will provide much-needed emergency support and more, including mental and physical health support. Any queer person can walk into the center and communicate with everyone,” Choedup said. “Each person can stay for up to 40 days. We will also help find long-term stays and employment.” (News Meter)
To parents of queer individuals, Choedup’s message is one of building compassionate awareness: “It comes easy to hate things that we do not understand. As parents, you might have had a certain idea of a child. But when they turn out to be different, try to understand and support them. After all, people don’t get to choose their sexuality and gender.” (Telangana Today)
Buddhist queer monastic seeks inclusivity (Telangana Today)
DGP inaugurates Transgender Persons Protection Cell (The Siasat Daily)
QT Centre: A safe haven for queer folks of Hyderabad (News Meter)
We Need Your Support To Set-Up Queer-Trans Wellness Centre , Help Us (Donate Kart)
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