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IFFK takes more steps towards inclusivity

Transgender persons part of the organisational team of the film festival

Anannyah Kumari Alex, Kerala’s first transwoman radio jockey and a professional anchor, had many bitter experiences in the past when she was denied opportunities simply because of her gender while overlooking her professional capabilities.

However, at the 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) she proved a point to all those who rejected her by emerging as one of the 12 anchors to be selected through an audition involving nearly 200 contenders.

“This is indeed a show of inclusiveness for which I am grateful but then I was chosen for my abilities and not for my gender. Even in the face of many rejections I never lost hope and this acceptance at a marquee event like IFFK will hopefully open more doors, which were shut on my face in the past,” said Ms. Alex.

Five years after introducing a separate column for transgenders in the application for delegations, the IFFK has gone one step ahead and has included four transgender persons in the organisational side of the event at its Kochi leg.

“I am happy and proud to be part of a prestigious event like the IFFK. For an aspiring artist, it offered me a platform to meet important people from all walks of life,” said Ayisha Dudle, actor-model transwoman who has acted in two Malayalam films, a Tamil one, and has been committed to do the lead role in a Telugu film to get under way shortly. Ms. Dudle, the first transwoman television news reader, was confident that being a volunteer at the IFFK would add to the general acceptance of her community in the society.

Sruthy Sithara, another transwoman volunteer and an aspiring model, recollected how she faced harassment from the public while attending the IFFK in 2016. “But the level of harassment is coming down and, this time, this stamp of recognition authenticated by the official tag of volunteer issued at the IFFK has even drawn respectful looks from the people,” she said.

For Sheethal Shyam, member of the State Transgender Justice Board and a member of the delegate committee of the IFFK, there is the satisfaction of playing a role in bringing the community to the organisational side. She was the first transwoman to be issued a delegate pass at the IFFK in 2016. “It increases the visibility of the community and elevates us in the perception of the participating public,” she said.

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