Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Functional Aspects of the SC Judgement

This is about the SC judgement (delivered on the 15th of April'2014) on Writ Petition (Civil) No.400 of 2012 filed by NALSA against the Union of India and Others. On the whole the judgement is a step in the right direction. I take a look at the best possible way to implement it in what follows. For background material see the references below.

It is very important that the rules/ methods and procedures of the implementation be simple and straightforward. This is because the bureaucracy (in particular) has never had suitable training on gender issues or sex education. To hit the nail on the head, an essential universal instruction that should be adopted by all state governments is the following (as per page 20-21 of the judgement):

If any Indian citizen wants to change their  gender assigned at birth, then they are permitted to do  so by filing a gender affidavit* indicating their preferred gender (from any of the three legally recognized ones). No additional medical certificates or endorsement/clearance by third parties (including relatives) need be furnished for the procedure.

(* A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.)

It is for people to live as they like in their gender of choice. If they are not allowed to, then it amounts to a crime committed on them by sections of society - that is about it. Trans woman may choose to identify as "women" or as "third gender", trans men may opt for identifying as "men" or "third gender" and most indigenous genders and other gender diverse people as "third gender".  Most transsexuals follow a binary perspective when it comes to specifying their own gender identity, but all of them do not some may have issues with "passing". All transsexuals do not transition in the same way and to the same degree of completion - whatever that means. Those are some reasons for the options.  Ideally we should permit people to use any label they desire, but the scope of the judgement is limited. 

It is important that the existing laws on marriage be changed to accommodate relationships between people of any genders. A majority of trans women are lesbians or are bisexual, most trans men tend to be gay or bisexual (see [b], for example). Often these people may be in conventional marriages before transition and these are bound to get into legal complications after transition. All this is further complicated by the general taboo against same-sex relationships in India. Then again people of other genders do marry with other genders in other ways. My personal view is that the state should not concern itself with the subject of marriage in the first place. But if it chooses to, then it should stop its grotesque discriminatory practices.

The SC ruling has directives on protecting the rights of trans people and people of indigenous gender in particular. Proper implementation requires that we have suitable infrastructure, personnel and universal sex and gender education. Of course, that is apart from basic benefits like free medical care, preferential access to education and sustainable living tracts. It is implicit in the ruling that State Governments are obligated to provide all of the benefits. I am not too sure about the extent to which they will dare to violate the implicit guidelines.



      [bComprehensive Study on Orientation of Transsexuals 


All Rights Reserved, Copyright A. Mani' 2014


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making an Approximate Self Portrait with GIMP

This may serve as a pointer for people with non-photogenic faces or who want to protect their privacy on the Internet and also as an invitation to explore the free (as in freedom) software GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Tool).

I do not have a photogenic face, but have plenty of flexibility and beauty. My image on mirrors do not match my photos because of too many soft features. I don't care about the difficult methods of artificial make-up on such faces for matching the original. So it is generally a problem for me to post selfies. This problem is pretty common among different groups of people. One thing that can be done by such people is to reduce number of 3D features being pounded into a 2D photo.

In recent passport size photos done by professionals, I end up looking like a college girl from the North East part of the country (cute, but ... ). Then there is the need to document. I attempted quite a few selfies with my C813 Kodak camera after reading up on related tips for non-photogenic people. But I probably need to work harder on it.

The art portrait(s) below is based on a selfie taken at close range at 45 deg (approx) with flash with eyes closed. For obvious reasons including glare from shining black wavy hair and blurred shadows, the picture was not usable. So I decided to try improving it with GIMP (I am not good at digital art using a mouse and have limited skills).

I used GIMP on the picture to

  1. Improve Automatically
  2. Changed tone
  3. Reduced Dimensionality (that is number of features, not the paltry amount of perspective in the photo).
  4. Implement HSV corrections.
  5. Form a Portrait with Pastels
  6. More Effects

The underlying goal was to isolate exactly one aspect with outline from the artistic point of view. From the mathematical point of view it is an aggregation of approximations - this is how I see it. Step 5 was most important for the former.

The best thing about GIMP is that anybody can get access to advanced tools for processing images and photos for quality work!


UPDATE: Pictures deleted.  I will put in an album soon! 




All Rights Reserved, Copyright A. Mani' 2014



Sunday, April 6, 2014

How To: Study Women in STEM

This guide is intended for feminists of diverse backgrounds and experience seeking to study women's issues in STEM in general, and Free Software Development, Computer Science/Engineering and IT in particular.

Most people in such fields are busy people, often hard pressed for time and time for living. Then there are women who may not be willing to talk or reveal their identity to the general public for various reasons. That means that you better be very prepared and professional in your approach.

If you are just a news person with interest in women's affairs and seek to cover some geek related sexist incident, then you should be aware of all of the resources below and more on good rules  of such reporting  (that may not be part of your news channel's policies).

The resources that you should be aware of include:

The wikia has references to other studies, includes information on various incidents and geek women, but is generally deficient on many theoretical aspects. Admittedly the focus is on women in the west. You will, for example (as of this writing), not find enough material or information on sexism and gender discrimination in Latin American and South East Asian countries - though it fairly well known that the situation is not good. All this means that the focus of your study should be appropriate enough.

If your study can be done through interaction in private and public mailing lists for women's issues, then do consider the option and follow all related privacy rules. If in doubt, do ask! Also note that it is not advisable to proceed through mass public channels like Reddit - mainly because these are spammed by organized bigots/vested interests and moderators do not have sufficient control.

The other problem that you need to be aware of is that many geek women may not be particularly competent in feminism or aware of feminist terminologies and the "apparent trivial nature of complex questions". If your study concerns contrasting narratives, then you better fix a good time and explain the complexity in advance. The same applies for studies with a focus on feminist epistemology.

Your work-flow may therefore be along the following lines:

  • Fix Topic
  • Do your Homework
  • Rectify Topic
  • Identify Potential Respondents.
  • Check if Topic and Methodology will appeal to potential respondents.
  • Fix Possible Questions - What kind of answers are you anticipating?
Rest should be easy.

Finally if you doubt everything and nothing less than real-time studies of your subject will convince you, then stay with us.


All Rights Reserved, Copyright A. Mani' 2014