Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trans queens of Manipur

Clickhappy! Jan '15
Manipur’s annual transgender beauty contest continues to pack a punch and offer some good music and dazzling photo opportunities! Pawan Dhall captures some

As in the previous edition, the ‘4th Miss Trans Queen Contest North East India 2014’
held at the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre in Imphal on December 16, 2014
was high on the anti-Section 377 protest element

Organized by All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMaNA), the event was supported
by a growing number of government, civil society and media agencies – American
Jewish World Service, CORE, European Union, ISTV, Manipur AIDS Control Society,
SAHRA network, Sappho for Equality, and Solidarity and Action Against
The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII)

The event kicked off with a panel discussion on current legal developments that affect
the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in India (right above, photo
courtesy AMaNA). The participants were psychiatrist Dr. R. K. Lenin; Rakesh
Meihoubam, Director, Human Rights Law Network; senior journalist Irengbam Arun;
and the author of this story on behalf of Varta Trust. The panel was moderated by
Dr. Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, Elder Council President, Centre for Organisational
Research & Education (CORE)

In a milestone development, the establishment of Empowering Trans Ability (ETA),
Manipur and North-East India’s first support group for lesbians, bisexual women and
trans men was announced at the event (left above)

The picture on top shows a performance by Nupa Maibis, the famed trans shamans
of Manipur now facing an uncertain future – see Cinemascope story From Inclusion
to Exclusion? by Paramita Banerjee in this issue of Varta. Apart from two Nupa
Maibis from Amaibi Sanglen Institute, the performers included dance students from
Jawaharlal Dance Academy, Manipur

The fashion part of the beauty contest was serious
business, with great attention paid to style and
detailing by budding and established designers
from North East India – pictures from top show
participants Leirang Sanathoi Sijagurumayum;
Loiloi Haorungbam, who is preparing for the
civil services examination; and Thoi Oinam,
a beautician – all three from Manipur

The beauty contest included 30 participants from all corners of Manipur and a few
from Meghalaya; 10 of the participants entered the final round. The contest rounds
were interspersed with dance performances by youth groups and songs by Alicia
Gwyaneth from Shillong, Meghalaya

Nearly 1,000 people turned up to witness the five-hour event in spite of the cold
weather, and there was no dearth of excitement and appreciation in the crowd

Akhu Chingakham, who is associated with Imphal Talkies, had the audience on
its feet with songs that challenged the social and political status quo – while
one song was dedicated to Maria, a female sex worker, in another he sang
about bringing Qutub Minar over to Manipur and returning it only if the central
government took back the much criticized Armed Forces (Special Powers)
Act, 1958 still in application in Manipur!

After four rounds of the beauty contest (including a Q&A round) judged by a
four-member jury: Natalia Heisnam from Manipur, second runner-up (top);
Nicky Marwin from Meghalaya, first runner-up (above); the winner Loiloi
Haorungbam, also from Manipur (below); and at the bottom – from left to right –
Nicky Marwin; Mona Okram, winner of the 2011 contest; Loiloi Haorungbam;
Rava Khagenbam, winner of the 2012 contest and a law student; Pandum,
a Shumang Leela artist; and Natalia Heisnam

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!

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