Indian society has been intolerant of the existing diversity of sexual identities for a very long time, however, after years of struggle and debates, in 2014, the Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a legal third gender. Since then, India’s third sex has made headlines on a number of occasions, for all the right reasons. We saw K Prithvi Yashini’s appointment as police officer and applauded Professor Manabi Bandopadhyay’s inspiring journey as she was made India’s first transgender principal, even Kerala became the first state to legally implement a transgender policy to uplift the community out of the doldrums, once and for all.
The transgender community has evolved from a small community that’s been clandestine about its customs and lifestyle to approximately 4.9 lakh members, hardly a ‘minority’ anymore, yet they still deal with prejudices and unwarranted hate on a daily basis. Suffice to say that these were big steps, although India has begun to slowly but surely move forward, ignorance and small mindedness still exists under the guise of hate and prejudice. It’s in this light that Harper’s Bazaar India’s latest issue featuring transgender models Tracey Norman and Geena Rocero shines bright in all its glossy finesse.
For many people in society magazines, more so their covers, present pictures of what is considered ideal beauty. For a magazine to sell well in the market, you need to take into consideration what the masses would want, what would appeal to them, and recognition, appreciation and celebration of the transgender community is not what would jump to mind instantly for the heteronormative, traditional majority of Indian society. In a country that has no lack of discrimination, be it based on gender, sexual orientation or race, where the LGBTQ community gets shunned, Harper’s Bazaar India took a risk featuring a transgender model as their cover girl, but it was a risk they were willing to take, broadening our understanding of beauty and challenging exclusivity.
As per a report by People Magazine, Tracey Norman and Geena Rocero are two of nine models being featured on the cover of their latest issue, part of a series titled ‘The Nine Wonders Of The World’; this marks the first time the internationally renowned publication has ever featured trans models on its covers. “Diversity has always been the DNA of Harper’s Bazaar. The Indian edition is delighted to follow in such illustrious steps,” said Nonita Kalra, Editor of Harper’s Bazaar India to People Magazine. “Showcasing white woman after white woman on covers does not work anymore, we need to show the women of the world that is of now. The world is changing and with this story we want to be apart of that global revolution,” added Christopher Sollinger, Art Director and Executive Producer, and we couldn’t agree more -- the world is changing and we hope that more publications of repute take a cue from Harper’s Bazaar India and set examples of acceptance, inclusion and respect for the public at large to see.
Click here to read the full report by People MagazineWords: Sara Hussain