The landmark Supreme Court judgment of 2014, which accorded India’s transgenders a third gender status, has offered a new-found liberation for the four-lakh member community. Many are shrugging off years of stigma and shame to break into corporate, creative and bureaucratic fields. They’re refusing to be relegated to the fringes, and taking their first steps towards their rightful place in the world.
Meet the ambassadors of change who broke societal stereotypes and paved the way for the transgender community to be a part of the changing dynamics of India.
1 – Meet K. Prithika Yashini, India’s first transwomen sub-inspector.
It all began in early 2015, when Prithika applied for the post of sub-inspector of police with the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services Recruitment Board. “My application was rejected since there was confusion with my name; also, the form had only the male and female categories to choose from and I chose female,” she says. She decided to go to court; for she wanted a fair chance at the recruitment process. Thus began a legal battle that Prithika fought with the help of advocate Bhavani Subbarayan till she got her due.
2 – Meet Madhu Bai Kinnar, India’s first trangender Mayor.
Born poor, shunned by her family, Madhu bai Kinnar stood as an independent candidate and won Raigarh’s mayorship. Madhu Bai Kinnar speaks in a gentle but assured voice: “Everyone on the streets knows me now. It’s a wonderful feeling!” It’s been an eventful year for Kinnar, who scripted history last year by becoming India’s first transgender mayor. Kinnar, standing independently, beat her BJP opponent by over 4,500 votes, securing the seat in the Municipal Corporation of Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. “When I took office, I was quite unfamiliar with the political world. But I’ve got a good grasp of everything now,” she says.
3 – Meet Manobi Bandopadhyay, India’s first transgender college principal.
Born as Somnath, to a traditional middle class Bengali family in Naihati, in the suburbs of Kolkata, Prof. Bandopadhyay had decided to undergo a sex-change operation a decade ago after being convinced that she was a woman born in a man’s body.She has also an adopted son named Debasish.In 2013, she was one of the participants of ‘Bigg Boss Bangla’, the Bengali version of the hit reality TV show ‘Bigg Boss’. She took the charge of her new responsibility in Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal’s Nadia district on 9th June 2015.
4 – Meet “6 Pack Band”, India’s first transgender music band.
Six eununchs from Mumbai are singing stigmas away in a first-of-its-kind musical outfit, 6 Pack Band. Earlier last year, a version of Pharell Williams’ Happy, took the Internet by storm. YouTube was filled with videos of Indians performing their versions of it. But one adaptation, Hum Hain Happy, stood out for its unusual theme – the featured singers were eunuchs. Dressed in bright lehenga-cholis and jewellery and strutting like models, the transgenders crooned ‘khush raho, nacho, gao, aao bajao taali’, as they visited corporate and public spaces, confidently braving the uncomfortable stares and sending a message for inclusivity. The video went viral, and has crossed 17 lakh views.
5 – Meet Sanjeevani Chavan, India’s first transgender taxi driver.
When tourism agency Wings Travel joined forces with Pallav Patankar, director of Humsafar Trust, to start a Mumbai taxi service chauffeured by the LGBTQ community, sexual equality literally took the front seat. The initiative gave Sanjeevani Chavan, a Mumbai-based transgender and HIV/Aids counsellor with Humsafar, hope not just for herself, but for others. “You’ll notice that when people from our community beg, people say things like, ‘Aren’t you ashamed? Can’t you work?’” So when a respectable job came her way, she didn’t think twice. “I thought I’d be able to stand on my own feet again.”
By – Anand Kumar
Media & Communications, Fiinovation
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