It is a beautiful morning and you are heading towards your office. Driving the car, you are enjoying the cool breeze with the windows down. The traffic signal turns red and you stop, following the rules being a responsible citizen that you are proud of. Suddenly, you hear some clapping nearby and you turn your head to check who is it. A group of transgenders is asking for money from vehicle to vehicle. By their movement, you are sure that one would eventually reach your car to ask for money. Without wasting any second, you hit the window switch and the glass is up. Now you are just praying that the light turns green before one of them reaches you. Moments later, the traffic moves and you hit the gas pedal to rush away as fast as you can. Nice save!
Down at office, you have a position open in the company to be filled. HR comes by with some short-listed profiles to show, where you see a transgender person with suitable experience and talent. Wondering how this person would mix in the office culture, you ask the HR to take down the candidature. The organization offers equal opportunities to both males and the females, but this candidate was neither of them, so who would care for it!
Transgenders are known by a number of names, including kinnar, chakka and hijda. While the constitution strives for equality and justice, most of the citizens do not even like to face them, equality is a far-off subject. We don’t even consider their existence, till we see them on the traffic signals, at homes where someone took birth or getting married.
Mostly treated like beggars in the society, transgenders are scolded, mistreated and ignored by us. We won’t shell out a penny when they ask for it, wondering why don’t they work and earn like all of us. But here is the stark reality of it, we do not want to see them working in the office, next to us, or in any ‘respectable job’. If they are not accepted in society, how do they survive? Transgenders end up mostly in either of the two, whether asking for money at traffic signals and celebrations, or becoming sex workers.
In 2014, India recognized transgender people as a 3rd gender, where they are allowed to choose this gender without sex reassignment surgery. The law changed for good, making India a better place for them to live, while society still mocked. Although every transgender fight against the currents of the world, a few stood above all to set benchmarks for others:
- Satyarthi Sharmila – Lawyer
- Joyita Mondal – Judge
- Prithika Yashini – Police Officer
- Manabi Bandhopadhyay – College Principal
- Shabnam Mausi – MLA
- Shabi – Soldier
- Apsara Reddy -Politician
- Meghna Sahoo – Cab Driver
As per BBC research conducted in 2014, there are more than 5 million transgender people in India. Now have a look at the list above, of how many actually made it through the friction of the society. The world has been excessively cruel towards them and it needs to change. We are not the decision-makers for others, so we cannot decide that transgender people should study, work and live with us in society or not. They have the same and equal rights as we enjoy, then why such hypocrisy? It is not the duty of activists like Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Akkai Padmashali or Gauri Sawant to fight for the rights, but our responsibility to help them feel comfortable, loved and respected with us. They are having a very hard life, let’s make it easier for them by accepting who they are and living in harmony together. We all need to create a society that welcomes diversity and offers freedom of living.
What I personally have seen are the smiling faces of transgender people, celebrating the happiness of others, dancing and singing for them. Wondering about the traffic signals, it is just their smiles and blessings that I have always received from them, no matter how troubled their life is. How can we be so harsh against a gender who is also created by the same Almighty and brought to life through the womb, as we did. They have always blessed and prayed for our well-being, so why shan’t we step forward to accept them as one of us.