Hit By The Gravity: Societal discrimination against the trans community
Marshall Tyagi's debut song, 'Hit By The Gravity' and its video portray how a transperson raises a mute child, and the discrimination they face on an everyday basis.
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The fight for LGBTQIA rights in India has been a long-drawn battle against social beliefs and hurdles — constitutional and legal. Finally, on September 6, 2018, the century-and-a-half-old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was abrogated. The fight for justice and rights and against discrimination continues — the most painful aspect being the fight against social stigma, which helps bolster the persecution of thousands of transpersons.
However, history stands testimony to the fact that art and music have lent voice to the voiceless, raised a cry against oppression, and attempted to show love against the face of hatred. And more often, it has been the youth who have fearlessly challenged age-old traditions and belief systems.
To quote Leonard Bernstein, the American music conductor, “Art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed... because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events... by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.”
Last year, during the Indies Awards, I came across a video made by a young musician — Marshall Tyagi — from Dehradun. It bagged the Music Video of the Year award and that's how I chanced upon it in the winners’ compilation video.
The song was called Hit By The Gravity and the video was on how a transperson raises a mute child, and the discrimination they face on an everyday basis. That it was Tyagi’s debut video makes it all the more special, as it showed that a group of youngsters could risk making a video on a topic that challenges social behaviour.
Just as popular art and culture help foster new belief systems and help protest against discrimination, it can also do the opposite. Transpersons have been stereotypically represented in movies in a clichéd manner. That representation does more disservice to them. Many of us have grown up with these images and portrayals, and we have all been guilty of having judged and suspected the community in some way or the other. Or, we have probably steered clear of interacting with them in a normal way.
I spoke with Tyagi on the video. The trigger to make it was a personal incident that he shared with me.
One night, Tyagi and his friend were travelling, when they saw a transwoman standing at the roadside waiting for public transport. She was not able to find one, so the two gave her a lift. And it was during this little trip that they struck a conversation with the woman. She told them how hard it is for her to go through everyday activities like commute from one place to another.
Tyagi and his friend then congratulated her on the landmark decision taken by the Supreme Court for acknowledging their gender, and her tears wouldn’t stop. Pride glowed on her face. That's when they realised how society had messed up their lives. Tyagi says that was when he knew he had to do something.
For any young musician in India, producing their first video or album is always a struggle — budgetary and resources' constraint, to dealing with people. After going through the usual challenging motions, Tyagi found support in friends who stepped up to the occasion, flew in from different cities and helped him put together his debut video.
Tyagi’s rich voice and brilliant lyrics, with a great sense of storytelling, make his debut video a stellar composition.
The video, in fact, has been well-received by the community as well. This was conveyed to him by India's First Transgender Beauty Contest Winner — Nitasha Biswas.
In tune with what Bernstein said, Tyagi said that the video needs to be seen by as many people as possible to be able to change the thinking of at least a few of them. The cause and the video are bigger than the musicians, Tyagi believes. I couldn’t agree more. The video truly needs to be seen by more of us. It needs to be shared so that our children don't get coloured by the stereotypes or clichés against the trans community.
Their battle for respect, equal rights and equal opportunities continues, and people like Marshall Tyagi lend their bit to this battle by changing society and making the world a better place to live in.