Here, have some quality journalism

The Indian Express picks up this story about a sixteen year old boy who was kidnapped and castrated, apparently, at the behest of a “transexual gang”. It’s a pretty horrible story.

The Express version of the story is rather illuminating:

Investigations reveal that Pune is emerging as a link between an inter-state gang of transgenders who castrate young boys and force them into prostitution.

This has come out after a team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Chennai police visited Pune last week and arrested a 75-year-old surgeon, S Naganna, at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, for allegedly castrating a 16-year-old boy from Tamil Nadu at the behest of some transgenders. The boy had fled Pune from his captors .

Well obviously, we’re all told as children that hijras Kidnap Children And Turn Them Into Hijras Too Oh Noes. Much more often than we’re told things like, say, Beware Older Male Relatives (guess which of these groups is statistically more threatening?)

After two pages of the website consistently referring to “transgenders” (terminology FAIL, IE, did no one from the initial journalist through editing guess this?), we come to this bit at the end:

Tejaswini Sevekari, a social activist working for uplift of sex workers in the red light areas of Pune, said she was aware of some transgenders willingly going to Chennai and Bangalore for surgeries, but I have not come across any boy who had been forced to forcibly castrated and pushed into the prostitution racket.

When contacted, the Faraskhana police said they were not aware of the case.

So…we’re not sure this particular case happened*. We’re even less sure it has happened to other people. But hey, we thought you’d like a couple of pages of transpanic first. Yes?

(Via Bird of Paradox )

*If it did, clearly, it’s awful. I shouldn’t have to write a disclaimer for this.

5 Comments to “Here, have some quality journalism”

  1. “transgenders”

    Seriously? Someone actually seriously wrote that with a straight face? O_o The whole thing is terrible reporting but that bit really sticks in my craw. Not to mention ‘teh eebil tranzgenderz chopping bits off innocent boys’. If this story is true, then it was a horrific experience for the young man… but I doubt ‘teh eebil tranzgenderz’ are to blame. Gah.

  2. Yep. I’m generally quite forgiving of ignorance, but all it needed was for someone to go on the internet for five minutes and find out what sort of language was acceptable!

  3. Aishwarya,

    You certainly have a valid point in the the question of playing up the criminalization and “Come-hither beckoning-Neon-signs nature of the headlines” part of this story.

    But on the subject of terminology, after consideration of all the prevailing terminologies and the various possibilities of ‘All As may not be B’s and so on an umbrella term such as transgender (at least as applicable in India and in these particular communities) seems the most-reasonably accurate.

    I’d like to know what exactly do you think should be the terminology they should have used in this case?

  4. Vidya

    I’m not questioning the fact that the people in question are transgendered. But “transgenders” defines the whole of them in terms of this one fact; trans-ness is a state, not a person.

    Transgendered people, trans people (with space between the two words), trans* people, are all alternatives that I think would be more acceptable.

    (If anyone who’s trans is reading this and wishes to tell me I’m talking out my arse, feel free to)

  5. Ah ok, got it. I was puzzled because there seems to be a lot of divided opinion on terms specific to the Indian context so wasn’t clear.

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