In 2020, Beoncy Laishram became the first trans woman doctor from Manipur, breaking stereotypes around transgenders in her state. Beoncy’s story of struggle made it to the headlines, and she became a symbol of hope for the trans community in Manipur, locally known as Nupi Manbis.

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“To go into a difficult field, you have to face all those difficult things. Without facing all those things, you cannot be a successful person,” said Laishram.

While Laishram’s story has done wonders for her community, many locals still hold to the notion that trans people work only in beauty parlours. Trans-activist Santa Khurai says it has become a stereotype over time.

“Many times, what people see towards transgender culture in Manipur is beauty parlour. People have this preconceived notion that transgender people have their earnings. Then why do they need another job? This is completely based on my experience of meeting bureaucrats. And even when I travel by autos, the first question I regularly receive from co-passengers is where is your beauty parlour, in which beauty parlour are you working? So, they have this stereotype in their mind,” said Khurai, Secretary of the All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association.

While several transgenders have been given the transgender identity card and certificates from the district magistrate, other benefits under The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 yet to see the light of the day. This is also a reason why many transgenders in the state still live in the shadows.

“We are not getting any support from the government’s side regarding the identity issue. That’s why people have stopped expecting it already. That’s why transgender people are not coming out. There are a lot of visible transgender people in Manipur. But if you go and ask any transgender person, they are not ready to open up as a transman or transgender. Because if they shift their gender, there won’t be any privilege. All the doors will be closed. So, you have to sacrifice something for your identity. You have to sacrifice everything. That’s how we are living,” said Thoujal Khuman, member, Nupi Manbi Association.

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