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Nawa: Spirit of Atey - Documentary film on Trans Nupamacha screened

By - Cecil Thounaojam
Imphal, Sept 1

Nawa: Spirit of Atey, a documentary film on a trans nupamacha (trans boy) was screened yesterday, August 31, 2019, at Court Hall in collaboration with Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP), Manipur University. A prologue to the life of 13-year old trans nupamacha Atey, the film was directed by Amar Maibam and Santa Khurai and produced by Lawai Bem Bem. Santa Khurai came to know about the story when Atey’s mother told her that Atey had stopped going to school when asked to wear girl’s uniform, and when the school headmaster got to know the reason, Atey was given boy’s uniform and he continued going to school. In another account, Atey wanted to join boxing classes and, so, was admitted to SAI, but the coach asked him to grow hair like a girl. Since then Atey refused to go for the boxing class. However, because of his interest in sports, he started learning Thang Ta under a local teacher, who had no issue with Atey’s masculine expression and treated him like any other student. Even though he was born female and showed interest to be a boy, his locality, school teachers, and parents did not pay much attention to it. Instead, they protected him with the idea that he was just an innocent child and should not lose track of life. The film also showed how a working class Meitei family, with no knowledge of gender education/child psychology, treated Atey and allowed him to experience his freedom of expression and happiness of being a child. Such old meitei tradition of gender inclusiveness or unbiased attitude among humans could also be seen in this film. The film also sent out a message for the parents and families of transgender children to understand this idea of gender inclusion rooted in our history and deal with their transgender children accordingly. If done so, then the children could hold a bright future ahead. Such unique stories should be told globally, not only in Manipur, and whatever pi-pa identity that a child wished to embrace should be respected. A post-screening discussion session was organised with the directors, Amar Maibam and Santa Khurai, the main character of the film, Atey, his father, and his Thang Ta teacher as panelists and Professor Amar Yumnam, Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Manipur University, as the moderator. The event was attended by various students, professionals, and members of transgender community.

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