Back in March I posted a Washington Post story to the blog about the upcoming debut of an Indian transgender TV host named Rose in Chennai, India.
Her half-hour show on Vijay TV called 'Ipadikku Rose' is broadcast to an audience of up to 64 million people in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu. While it was conceived as a program suitable for family viewing according to the show’s director, Anthony Thirunelveli, it tackles sex and sexuality issues.
The first episode was broadcast back in February and dealt with sexual harassment of women. In addition to a five member in-studio panel consisting of an academic, two women, and a couple, there was participation from the studio audience in the show as well.
The show has also tackled the exploitation of women in modeling, and according to Vijay TV's head of programming, Pradeep Milroy Peter when he was interviewed by the BBC back in February, "We will be tackling subjects that are very controversial in nature, from gay rights to sexual abuse and prostitution. All the issues that have been hushed up and put under the carpet."
The host is happy that her television show has garnered a positive reaction so far.
The 28 year old Rose studied biomechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA, and returned home to Chennai after working as a website designer. But ever since she was five she'd become aware of her femininity and felt uncomfortable as a boy. She didn't start dressing as a woman until her early 20's.
"Deep inside I relished being a girl," she said.
It took her years to tell her family the news, and once she did, their reaction to the news was not a positive one. "My mum was shattered, she burst out in tears and my dad was full of sorrow," Rose said.
Even so, her family still thought that they could put her on the path to masculinity and considered arranging a marriage for her.
Transsexuality in India has been surrounded by superstition and myth, but modern society has been less tolerant of them. Many are shunned by their families and find it hard to obtain conventional jobs. Rose is fortunate because she may be headed for TV stardom.
But despite being considered her homeland's version of Oprah Winfrey, like many transgender people once they come out, she's going through a difficult period in her life. "I have been publicly ridiculed, called names and looked down upon. There has also been physical abuse," she said.
She remains optimistic that her show will change society's attitude towards transgender people in India and put them in a more positive light.