On the 15 April, 2014, the Supreme Court of India made judicial history in India by declaring transgender people to be a ‘third gender’ and affirming that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people. Though this judgement gave transgenders the right to self-identification and marked a major step towards gender equality in India, still there is long way before they become a part of our mainstream society.
Transgender community continues to suffer social stigma. And transphobia has driven them to isolation, increasing poverty, violence, lack of social and economic support systems, and compromised health outcomes in the community. A section of the community sing at weddings or at the birth of a baby to bless the occasion, beg at traffic lights or on trains and buses, and do sex work to get some money for a living.
The transgenders’ career path is not simple and straight, for they have to make extra efforts to be accepted in the world of ‘common people’. Despite the challenges, a few successful transgender people have broken the shackles to become the first ones to achieve big in their area of interest, from academics to politics.
To bring awareness on the lives of transgenders, VFC conducted a workshop and invited Ms. Chandini to talk to the volunteers. Ms. Chandini was born a boy in a small village in Mysuru district. Her journey to becoming Ms. Chandini was full of hurdles. She faced resistance from society at large when she wanted to join the hijra community. Later, she faced resistance from the hijra community when she tried to break free from restrictions within the community. But today, she’s overcome all the obstacles and is running Payana, a NGO for the betterment of sexual minorities.
During the question and answer session, Chandini openly shared her experience and encouraged volunteers to clear their doubts without any hesitation. She even bust myths surrounding the curses and blessings of Hijras. Talking about the society, she said the mentality is changing and her own parents and villagers have accepted her and respect her.
Ending her talk, Chandini told that the transgender community doesn’t seek any sympathy or empathy. All they need is acceptance, identity and a fair chance to live their lives.