Author Nandini Krishnan’s book ‘Invisible Men’ has irked the trans-community in Manipur, who have voiced their displeasure on the misrepresentation of the narratives of Nupa Maanba – the indigenous name for trans-men in the state.
“The Manipuri trans-community has a rich history and we have our own indigenous narratives. But in the book, Nandini Krishnan tries to paint us as part of the dominant Hindu community,” Santa Khurai, a prominent trans activist and writer from Manipur told News18.
Khurai, a member of the Meitei tribe, claimed that the book has failed to highlight the rich culture of other indigenous tribes in Manipur. Krishnan had apparently only focused on the Meitei tribe ignoring the other tribes. “The section on Manipur starts with a description of Chitrangada and Arjuna from Mahabharata. Why would the writer begin our chapter with these characters that we don’t even know? Hindu mythology is not historically relevant to us,” Khurai said, according to a report in The Northeast Today.
Eta Manipur, an organisation working towards safeguarding trans rights in Manipur, has asked for a review of the book and also demanded an apology for the misrepresentation. Khurai’s organisation All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMNMA) has also threatened to publicly burn the books as a mark of protest.
The author has drawn a lot of flak on social media as some accused her of glorifying the role of Hindus as saviours of trans persons. The introduction, written by writer Manu Joseph, has also been called transphobic by many on social media.
@manujosephsan you owe trans people , specifically trans men an apology for your transphobic and voyeuristic introduction to us in the book “invisible men” by Nandini krishnan. You won’t get away with this, you troll. pic.twitter.com/9n9TG6rKXA
— Gee (@geeimaan) January 2, 2019
just read the part about kashmir in nandini krishnan’s trash book…….i….can’t………… pic.twitter.com/PwLjYAgx2c
— girls pls b mature, dont feel (@eraserheadass) January 9, 2019
and when the one seeking saw the head of the one hiding, the one hiding would say “you haven’t seen my whole body”. That’s Nandini Krishnan is doing with her “read the whole book” argument. https://t.co/Zh3QyZ0hrp
— cecil thounaojam (@cecilthojm) January 8, 2019
However, Krishnan has put out a post on Facebook, attempting to clear the air:
“…have explained the difference between being sorry for unintentional hurt caused and apologising for content. An apology is an admission of guilt or error. My conscience is clear. Every word in the book, from myself, Manu, and every interviewee, is an honest opinion. Mythology, fiction, and theories by philosophers have also been used in the book. None of these is claimed as fact, as should be evident from the words “myth”, “fiction”, and “theory”.