Portrayal of transgenders in Indian advertising.

Bhima Jewellery’s ‘Pure as Love’ campaign with transgender student and model Meera Singhania is the latest in a small but growing number of Indian advertisements featuring trans people. Vicks India, Ralco Tyres, Brooke Bond Red Label and Nykaa are some of the other brands that have woven stories of trans people into their recent ad films. While these ads may tick boxes like diversity and inclusion, what do trans people think of them?   

Biraja Mishra, a trans woman from Bhubaneswar pursuing a degree in gender studies, says, “I do not appreciate ads that speak of trans people as sacred beings with links to mythology. We want to be treated as equal citizens, not exotic creatures. Ads may also create the impression that all trans people want to undergo medical transition. That is simply not true.”

Medical transitioning involves a variety of expensive procedures such as hormone therapy, laser hair removal, top surgery, vaginoplasty, hysterectomy, phalloplasty, facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation. Trans people may or may not choose medical transition based on their relationship with their body, access to funds, availability of social-emotional support, or for other reasons. It is a personal matter, and intrusive questions are best avoided.

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