Namaste, my name is Grace and I identify myself as a woman. Namaste, my name is Christy and I am a trans-man. This week in India Loud & Clear I take you to the LGBTQI community of the third gender. Please carry a rainbow umbrella to protect yourself against rotten prejudices and deeply-rooted stigmas. Life as a transgender can be harsh and excluded. Ask Ranjita Sinha – a transgender activist in Kolkata for the past ten years, fighting for acceptance and opportunities. My journey as an activist began when the transgender movement was being crushed. We faced discrimination on a daily basis…I cannot even talk about some of the incidents. We were beaten up, ostracized, there was false media coverage. India’s third gender has lived on the fringes since ever. Surviving by asking donations for their blessings, performing at weddings, begging, and sex work. Being ghettoized to certain areas in the city. Facing societal and workplace discrimination. Nayana is a strong example of the stigmatized trans community in many ways. Christy, as a CC you made this video about Nayana. Why did you choose her story? Nayana and I used to work in the same organization. She learned computer and designing. She then got a job at Thought Works. After that I thought of making a story on her because people usually think that a trans-woman can only beg or do sex work. In that sense, Nayana was a role model for me. Our community struggles with only two options, either we have to do sex work or beg. I was scared about the health risks involved (with sex work). I was sensitive and therefore not keen on doing this in the area that I lived. Even here in Bengaluru I had to do the same work – sex work. I thought of joining a computer class and I started with learning basic skills. With the money I earned, because I didn’t have any support from my family, I had to support my family too. My father had left the house. So I had to send money home to support my family. Nayana lived her dream by breaking out of the system. She’s working in ThoughtWorks as a marketing associate. Sadly, the far majority of India’s nearly half million transgenders are poor, marginalized and victims of harsh discriminations. Many are illiterate and so are excluded from most employment and education opportunities. But the past years saw some historical victories in the gender-sexuality rights. According to the landmark NALSA judgement every Indian has the right to self-identify as male, female or third gender. In another blasting victory in 2018, the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377, a colonial law that criminalized gay sex. Christy, what did this victory mean for you? I used to think that I too am bound by this section 377 or that I would be imprisoned. I was very happy when this law was repealed in 2018. But society and people still think that we are not human beings. Law is definitely with us since 6th September, but social reformation is a bigger battle than legal reformation. We have accepted the challenge and keep working towards it. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, which is mired in controversy, proves that the trans community is still facing many hurdles. The NALSA Declaration gave us the right to identify ourselves. It was a self-declaration kind of right, but here we’ll have to prove it a various steps of the screening committee. Starting from a magistrate to a doctor to somebody else, to some social worker and I think at some point that they wouldn’t mind to ask us to strip down and show our bodies. This Bill had a few problems The NALSA and the draft that we had worked on was played around with, the BJP government had brought in this Bill in the month of December We protested this a lot and took out many rallies because we didn’t want this Bill The problem with this Bill is that – If I come out as trans person, I’ve to report to the Magistrate declaring that I am a trans person. As an Indian born as a female I don’t think I have the freedom to come out. How will I then be able to go meet the magistrate? So, how do I declare myself as a trans person? This Bill has many problems of this nature. This is why we were opposing it. But it was passed nevertheless. Now, we may have to continue our work at the state level. A major road block is the almost impossibility to convert degree certificates, identity cards, birth certificates, voting cards into the new third identity. With deep consequences of earning a livelihood. How do you make a living? Christy, what sort of difficulties have you faced? We are now getting out Voter ID, PAN Card and Aadhar Card at an organizational level But let’s say we want to change our education certificates I can give you an example: There’s a trans woman called Divya. She has studied physiotherapy. Throughout her education, she was a male. After her transition she tried for many jobs with her certificates. But she was asked if it were indeed her certificates or did she steal it. So, what’s the use of all this? Even though we have transitioned to a gender of our choice, we can’t find work. About Voter ID – we live in different places. We don’t have a permanent home address. This means we’ll have to keep changing our address These are difficult things. But dreams do come true. Let me take you to this mass wedding in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur. Fifteen transgender women celebrated their wedding day in a Hindu ceremonial style. Just like any other girl I also had childhood dreams of getting married and having a family. I was believed that transgender don’t marry, but this day in Rajpur, sends a message across the entire world that India is very liberal and people are very sensitive towards all genders There is a change taking place and there are people out there who oppose this change. We are not saying they are wrong, Opposition does come up when norms are broken and people have to come out of their comfort zones. But ultimately time embraces the change. I work with Video Volunteers as a community correspondent. When I applied for this in 2010, the form had an option to choose from Male, Female and Others. I was very happy to see this option of ‘others’. That’s why I applied. I got that position and work from Bangalore. I want to say that this world should treat us like humans. Like you, I’m human too and want to live my life. I need all the same things you do – a house a ration card, education and employment. So, our struggle will continue. Let us know and write your comments below. If you’d like a Loud & Clear view of things that impede India’s development, do “like” and “subscribe” to our channel. See you again next week.