March 31 marks the Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to spread awareness about the struggles and successes of the trans community
‘Unbox Me’ by UNAIDS symbolically addresses the isolation and marginalization of trans children which begins right in their own families. Influential personalities are unboxing hidden childhood treasures of transgender people on social media, to create awareness and demand acceptance.
New Delhi, On the International Transgender Day of Visibility observed globally on March 31st, UNAIDS has launched a unique initiative aimed at sensitising larger communities on the rights of transgender children. In doing so, UNAIDS has sought to bring focus on an audience segment that has almost never been spoken of – Transgender children.
A study by the Indian Journal for Psychological Medicine, indicates that 31% of transgender persons in India end their life by committing suicide, and 50% of them have attempted suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. Recent cases of suicides by school students in Bareilly and Noida in Uttar Pradesh are clear indicators of a lonely childhood and adolescence filled with rejection and abuse.
Transgender kids feel discomfort with their gender as early as the age of two. It is from the same age they start closeting their true gender identity and boxing it like a secret. The lack of societal inclusivity only makes it worse, and they end up with an unloved and un-flourished childhood.
Unbox Me is a creative exploration of the theme of secrecy, and hiding, that most such children go through but one that transgender children go through in a psychologically debilitating way.
All children love to create hidden places where they can hide their precious stuff safely and securely. These hidden possessions reveal a lot about the child – who he/she is, what he/she likes and what his/her dreams are. Trans children are no different. But for them, this act of hiding treasures becomes a way of hiding their identity from disapproving eyes. Now, influential Indian and international personalities are revealing these hidden childhood treasures of transgender people on social media, in an effort to symbolically unbox their secret to the world and open the conversation for so many transgender children out there, not just in India, but everywhere. The videos are a play on popular unboxing videos, in which people unpack gadgets and toys. Only this time, the unboxings have a much deeper meaning.
Earlier in the year, UNAIDS’ very successful short film “See-me-as-I-am” found widespread appreciation and resonance – touching hearts and minds of parents, teachers, and the wider community, both in India and globally. The film served to sensitise them that they need to be loved and supported like every child deserves. Building from the film, “Unbox Me” seeks to bring home the terrible reality of trans children denying themselves and hiding their true selves.
Speaking about the campaign, Mahesh Mahalingam, Director, Communications and Global Advocacy, UNAIDS said, “Gender diversity is not just an issue for adults but for all ages including children.”
He added, “There are thousands of children like the ones who provided their boxes all over the world who want to express and claim their identities. And they should not have to wait until they become adults, it is too late by then. As parents, as teachers, as brothers and sisters, as community members we have to recognize and nurture children for who they truly are. Each of the objects in the boxes are a plea to be heard, to be loved, to be recognized.”
Swati Bhattacharya, Creative Chairperson – FCB India who conceptualized this campaign said, “In India, children usually have a box which they use to store their most precious possessions. In the case of trans children however, they need to hide their box of treasures, since some of their most precious possessions don’t fit the gender norm that society expects them to conform to. The film shows exactly that, every box opened revealed someone’s true self. We sent these boxes to prominent people in the community who then unboxed it on their social media feed, sharing their feelings and thoughts as the reality of countless children suppressing their spirit became a tangible reality one could experience.”
The Unbox Me initiative is already garnering support from the education community with teachers at many prominent schools coming forward to help spread the message among their own teacher-student-parent community (The Shriram School, The Millennium Schools, Mussoorie International School and Vasant Valley to name a few). It will now travel to schools across India.
This article was shared with Prittle Prattle News as a Press Release.
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