Need for Intersectionality

Intersectionality is the term used to describe the interaction of socioeconomic and physical factors such as gender, race, handicap, caste, sex, or any other form of discrimination. In other words, intersectionality is the recognition and appreciation of the fact that every person experiences oppression and discrimination in ways that are specific to them. These may be influenced by the numerous identities they have, including gender, race, disability, caste, sex, and others. It would be unreal to think that rows and columns can only exist independently. It is about time we understood the ‘table’ of intersectionality.

Consider this example : for an assigned female at birth who identifies as a man, and belongs to an oppressed caste (also known as ‘lower caste’), their struggle with power is not only in terms of their gender and/or gender expression but also with the caste supremacy thrown at them by the oppressor caste (also known as ‘upper caste’). To top it all, if they belong to a rather conservative family which believes in ‘marrying off’ their “girl” child as soon as they can, this person’s struggle to reach their potential gets repeatedly crushed. This intersectionality of gender, caste and being born in a woman’s body in a patriarchal society makes it a tough battle to fight. These experiences of oppression and discrimination don’t exist independently for them but intersectionally i.e. altogether.

Similarly, conversations of intersectionality are heard around the demands for horizontal reservation across the transgender community. To make sure that intersectional oppression doesn’t get in the way, it is imperative to implement horizontal reservation for the transgender population. A horizontal reservation is one where a person who is Dalit/SC/ST/OBC/Adivasi AND transgender should be able to benefit from both the reservations because they have been oppressed on the basis of both.

While vertical reservation, as opposed to horizontal reservation provides only one of the many reliefs to the survivors. Simply put, if one has been discriminated basis their caste or religion they should be given, say 1% reservation for it and if they are a person who is transgender too, they should be able to secure another 1%. This needs to be implemented across education, jobs; both in public and private sector, local election, and welfare schemes.

In India, the Karnataka State Government has become the first state to provide 1% reservation for transgender persons in employment for civil services posts across caste categories. The Tamil Nadu government, however, categorized transgender persons as ‘Most Backward Community’ and at par with the Other Backward Castes. This vertical compartmentalization means that the seats will first be offered to the OBCs and whatever number of seats are left will then be occupied by the transgender persons. For those who are anti-reservation must ask themselves this – “What came first, caste or reservation?”

The first thing to go should be your answer to the query. The same is true of transphobia and reservation, since people will start to believe that the relaxation is the product of privilege rather than prejudice as soon as reservation is achieved.

At the moment, there is a lack of intersectionality in the mainstream LGBTQ spaces, whether we look at Indian LGBTQIA+ spaces or international ones. If we look at the very first pride march, the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, Marsha P. Johnson, one of the first few people to stand up to the police brutality against gays, drag queens, and trans people in the U.S., was a black trans woman.

So, when Black Lives Matter began to ignite the much needed flames in the hearts of people all around the world, they were remembered for their exemplary courage against white and cis-gender heteronormative supremacy.

In order to better recognize, comprehend, and ground our disparities in identity, prejudice, and experiences, intersectionality awareness is crucial. This knowledge can aid in creating room for the numerous ways that we form group politics, whether queer or not. Additionally, it makes sure that the requirements of various groups within our larger community are satisfied.