Transgender Indians’ seatbelt safety video

  An Indian video campaign to persuade drivers to wear seatbelts shows transgender actors taking to the streets of Mumbai in imitation of an airline safety demonstration.   An Indian video campaign to persuade drivers to wear seatbelts shows transgender actors taking to the streets of Mumbai in imitation of an airline safety demonstration. They have appeared in sacred Hindu texts and been part of South Asia’s culture for thousands of years. They have been asked to bless marriages and births and are often seen across India blessing motorists in return for cash. Now hijras – better known in India as transgender people – have emerged as the unlikely stars of a new road safety campaign. The Seatbelt Crew features transgender dancers in a short film, created on behalf of a personal protection app Vithu by the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, has become an internet hit, clocking up more than one and a half million views since it was uploaded three days ago. The adverts shows the hijras clapping to a routine inspired by an air cabin crew. “If you’re going to drive like a pilot,” says one, “then you should know some things.” They then go on to explain to motorists the dangers of driving recklessly and without a seatbelt. Prejudice prevails Transgender people have suffered due to antiquated criminalisation laws dating back to when the British ruled in India. The country’s Supreme Court last month finally ruled that transgender people would be recognised on official documents under a separate “third gender” category. The decision was cheered by activists, who say that, despite its distinguished history, the...
Do Ladyboys plan for the future?

Do Ladyboys plan for the future?

  Many of us westerners do all we can to direct and control fate or to limit it’s negative effects. If you doubt this, consider the multi-million business of insurance in the West. The average Thai ladyboy, girl or man is no closer to adopting this attitude to life than were their ancestors a hundred or two hundred years ago. Next time you hire a scooter in a Thailand beach resort, ask for insurance and you will probably be met with a blank gaze. At first glance such insouciance may seem to belong in the stone-age, but spend a little more time in the kingdom and you may begin to question the wisdom, and even the sincerity, of your previously held Western attitudes. Think a little about life in the West. We spend our lives paying income tax, council tax, life insurance, car insurance, accident insurance and perhaps even medical insurance. The job market demands that we constantly train and retrain, presenting ourselves as dynamic, enthusiastic go-getters who are well educated and experienced in our field. It also demands that we remain young and malleable. Negativity about our situation is almost considered a criminal act. We raise our children at great expense and personal sacrifice of our freedom. We may not regret it and yet the cost is undeniably high both financially and emotionally. We strive to achieve status, buying the house and cars as required by our corrosive social mores. Later, married, having given up alcohol abuse, nicotine, fulfilling sex and recreational drugs, having learned the coded language of our politically correct workplace, having become careful of what...
Talking football with the (wo)man of the match

Talking football with the (wo)man of the match

Talking football with the (wo)man of the match A boutique nail and beauty bar isn’t the obvious location to interview a footballer of international standing – but then Jayeih Saelua is no ordinary footballer. A 6ft 2 central defender for American Samoa’s men’s team – Jayeih is known for crunching tackles and crucial goal line clearances. But Jayeih also has long vermillion nails and sleek glossy hair that reaches almost to the small of her back. Jayeih is transgender – in lay terms, a woman born into a man’s body. A woman whose parents gave the name “Johnny”. Talking football with the (wo)man of the match Her team – American Samoa – were previously known as the side that infamously lost 31- 0 to Australia in a World Cup qualifier. But that was before a new coach revitalised the team and recruited new players. One of whom is Jaiyeh – who has accidentally become the star of a new documentary ostensibly following the team’s on field fortunes. And “Next Goal Wins” also tackles an issue at the cutting edge of sport. Transgender footballer Jaiyeh is the world’s first transgender footballer to play on the international stage – not just in meaningless friendlies, but in the world cup qualifiers. Jaiyeh is in London to promote her film. While a beauty therapist fixes a broken nail and massages moisturiser into her palms, we discuss who is going to win the World Cup. It’s hard to imagine someone like Jaiyeh ever playing for the England men’s team. But American Samoa is rather different. For when she first took the field, Jaiyeh says...
A Map to Remember Me. Part 10, Walking Tall

A Map to Remember Me. Part 10, Walking Tall

    Walking Tall     It is hard now to remember what life was like back then I believed them when they told me I was alone in the world and that this place and time were invincible. They left us to walk those troubled streets as strangers But the stories we were told about ourselves and our place in the world stopped making sense and so we walked . . . but we listened to other voices, the voices of our cult.         The names of roads and pubs that bisect estates and shopfronts have become a shorthand for memories. The Linnet and  Cpl. M telling us to move forward, his face, menacingly ebullient as was his way. We were told that anyone giving us lip or anyone who so much as spoke to soldiers was to be arrested. We carried a round in the breach at all times and usually we would wait until we got out into the street to cock our weapons as the noise let everyone nearby know we meant business. On some estates we never went in the road, we kept to the back gardens, hard-targets. They would often dump shopping trollies and barbed wire in their gardens to make life difficult for us. Of all the people in Belfast it’s difficult to find anyone more anti-British than those living on some estates. Huge gun battles raged there. Many houses have had their roofs virtually ripped off by machine-gun fire and the schools even have bullet holes in their front doors. There is always one particular place on a...
A Map to Remember Me. Part 9, Berlin

A Map to Remember Me. Part 9, Berlin

  Berlin     He adjusts his jacket, sits and adjusts his trouser legs, tics, opens his book, pause. Stillness for a few moments. Speaks After the war, I was in Berlin and an extra duty we had was train guard. This meant going to Magdeburg in the Russian Zone, picking up about 3000 German prisoners and taking them to Munster about 300 miles away. Not long you may think, especially by train. It used to take us about a week for the return trip. No priority for POW’s on the railway then. The trains were made up of three pack wagons like guard vans and the rest were coal trucks. The wagons that carried the prisoners were terrible with no heating at all, some died. Later the ‘powers that be’ decided to put a small stove in each of the pack wagons and it was ok. It was a mad rush at Magdeburg picking up the POW’s and getting them all packed into the trucks. Then we issued them with a loaf of bread and a tin of bully beef this was to last them for the 3 or 4 day journey but it was all gone in the first half an hour. Poor sods were starving. Unfortunately they all had dysentery so every time the train stopped on the way a lot would jump out and crouch by the track. We had the job of shoving them back into the wagons and then getting into our own because the driver never waited. When the winter got too bad we never bothered to get them back in the...