Letter from Editor - Radhika Chandiramani

We are back with more thought provoking articles and images! Sexuality, gender expression and identities, rights, culture…yes, it’s all here.

In this issue of In Plainspeak, Angela Kuga Thas from Malaysia tells us about her work on a range of issues spanning creative projects with young people, sexuality, women’s rights, and virtual reality. Tahir Khilji juxtaposes issues of young people’s rights to gender expression and identity alongside sexual violence in the world of the zenanas in Pakistan, a world that few people know, leaving us with many troubling questions to think about. 

Gender expression and identity run into troubled waters when they do not conform to what is expected. Glenn Maboloc talks about how Filipina transwomen constitute their sense of self and autonomy in a culture where social relationships are privileged over the individual. 

Though we are finally getting to be able to be queer in the streets (read Campaign Spotlight to see how), it will still be a while before all of us can do that at our jobs or even between the sheets. Read what Skywalker has to say about being transgendered and finding a job or a partner. 

But it’s not only gender-benders who run into trouble. Gender-conforming heterosexuals don’t have it so easy in the Philippines – they can’t leave a marriage they no longer want to be in, and they can’t have sex with someone else if they are married. Carolina Ruiz, a feminist lawyer, focuses on the absurdity of a law that turns consensual sex between adults into a crime.

In our regular features, you will find Revati Chawla’s review of the much publicised book The Wisdom of Whores that was doing the rounds at the just concluded International AIDS Conference in Mexico, and Ponni Arasu’s review of the film About Elsewhere. You will also learn more about microbicides – research is still ongoing, but they offer an exciting new option for people to protect themselves against HIV without preventing pregnancy. 

We have also added a new section, Notes from the Region, featuring updates from our partner Resource Centres in China, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

Long after you have finished this issue of In Plainspeak, Tejal Shah’s images will linger in your mind. In Art Space, she offers us another brilliant photo-essay disrupting our notions of fixed gender identities and expressions and making the fantastical possible. 

Yes… another world is possible!

As always, do send in your feedback and contributions to resourcecentre@tarshi.net.

Stay well, stay safe, stay happy,

Radhika Chandiramani