Following backlash, Noida Metro authorities have rolled back the decision to name the Sector 50 metro station as ‘She-Man’, and has asked the public to email suggestions
In a pioneering and ground breaking initiative for the transgender community, the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) had decided on 19 June, to convert the sector 50 Metro station on Aqua line as She-Man station. NMRC Managing Director Ritu Maheshwari said that this special initiative was being undertaken by the NMRC for the ‘inclusion and meaningful participation’ of the members of the transgender community.
What came across as genuinely thoughtful of the NMRC is that along with providing employment opportunities for transgender communities, it also seeks to generate awareness about the community among other commuters through signposts and announcements inside trains and stations.
The MD said, “As per census 2011, there are 4.9 lakh transgenders in India out of which 30,000-35,000 stay in NCR. The naming of the station will raise awareness and sensitivity”.
While the plan was appreciated, the name ‘She-Man’ met with a lot of backlash from various LGBTQ activists and NGOs. Social media too came out in force condemning the term, claiming it is a trans-misogynist slur.
Transgender is a broad, umbrella term. People who identify as transgender are extremely diverse, and one person cannot speak for all. A person can identify as trans woman or trans man but there are many more genders that fall under the category of the term ‘transgender’, including non-binary genders, or people who do not identify as male or female. To be precise, there are around 58 different gender identities. Which is why it is being said that the term ‘She-Man’ does not do justice to all of them.
The term ‘She-Man’ might end up doing some unforeseen harm which certainly the NMRC’s well-meaning initiative did not take into account.
A report titled, “What are appropriate labels and terms for transgender people”, by Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. categorises ‘She-Male’ as an offensive term for a transgender woman. It stated that this term is used by sex workers or within the porn industry.
‘SPACE – Zeenat Club’, an NGO supporting transgender communities, issued a statement which said, “While we appreciate the initiative of the Noida Metro and their intention, the term ‘She-Man’ is unacceptable. It is offensive and doesn’t reflect the diverse transgender identities. It is plain, inappropriate and insulting. The terms she-man/ she-male are often used in the porn industry. This will lead to ridiculing and stigmatising the marginalised community. We appeal to Noida Metro authority to change the station name to a plain Trans Station’ in the interest and the dignity of the community.”
Dr Aqsa Sheikh, who identifies herself as a trans woman and is a community medicine specialist, told The Quint that the decision to name the Metro station ‘She-Man’ is derogatory and goes against the spirit of how transgender persons wish to identify themselves.
Nazariya, a queer feminist resource group also responded to Delhi Metro’s move negatively. “…naming of the station as a ‘She-Man’ station to promote transgender persons’ rights is not acceptable. Whenever we want to work for any community which is marginalised, it is important to know the correct terminologies and facts.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
Following criticism, the Noida Metro Rail Corporation, has announced on its website that it is now accepting suggestions for terms for the station such that it resonates with the transgender community, from NGOs and individuals who work for the trans cause.
The entries can be submitted by 6 July via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The stance of the NMRC on accepting the fact that it made a wrong decision without consulting the community involved and its willingness to mend its error was well received by netizens and the queer collective communities. Suggestions have started pouring in, one of the most attractive being ‘Rainbow Station’, which can indeed make the metro experience inclusive for the Trans community.