“My name is Rani. It’s the name given by my people. I was named Hitesh by my parents before.“ Rani is a transgender and lives in Delhi. 38 years old rani begs for living. While talking about her daily routine, rani said, “We all live together, Jyoti, Durga Didi (Big sister), Shabnam. I wake up 6 am. After a cup of tea and getting all ready, me and my other members leave house and stops at every traffic light and ask for money. It’s not like we love this work, but this is what we are left to do.“
Trans people have existed in every caste, class and society from centuries. They are recognized as third gender in the Indian sub-continent and are called by several names like Hijras, Aravani, Aruvani, Jogappa etc. According to the 2011 census, total population of transgenders is 4.8 lakh and out of which only 30,000 are registered with the election commission, as per the available information. Figures are assumed to be much higher, bur due to the discrimination and abandoning issues, they tend to keep it a secret.
Rani shared the experience of childhood ad said, “I am from Uttar Pradesh and belongs to a very poor family. When I was 18 years old, my mother started asking me to get married. But I had realized long time back that I don’t belong to this community. When I shared this with my mother, she suffered from a great shock. And I thought without giving much pain to my father, I thought of leaving the house. Since then, I did not visit them. I came Delhi for work and met Shabnam. That is how we end up living together. Now this is my family.“
They are considered as minorities and is one of the marginalized communities of the society. Since they do not come under the basic category of “male“ and “female“, they are often deprived of their basic rights. They are not easily acceptable by the society, and face social rejection multiple times including jobs. Majority of them are left to do low paid jobs and even forced jobs for living like sex work and begging. Not having a proper employment for us is the biggest drawback they think that comes with being the part of this community. According to rani, “I have no shame for who I am instead I think we are all children of god and god doesn’t discriminate. God loves each and everybody and so getting love from god id enough for me. But what disturbs me is the opportunities we don’t get because of who we are.“ Rani thinks the way of living of transgenders is extremely affected due to the possibilities of employment they don’t have.
“Once there was a pamphlet on the road of beauty parlor that said they needed two girls for the work. Although I and Shabnam are good in doing such things related parlor, but we did not give it a thought due to the requirement of the particular gender they mentioned“, said Rani. Rani loved makeup since childhood but due to the situation, kept it a secret. “I have always loved makeup. I remember once, when I was 15 years old and all alone in home. I put the lipstick on and it made me feel so good and beautiful. Today also, I never forget to put lipstick whenever I leave house. Red lipstick is my favorite“, said Rani.
In 2016, a transgender bill got passed in India. As per the bill, it prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. It also directs the central and state government to provide welfare schemes in these areas. It also includes that offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, physical or sexual abuse, even denial of access to any public place would result into two years of imprisonment and a fine.
On asking if they are aware about this bill, to which rani responded, “Yes, we are aware of it. Durga is the older one here and is also like our big sister. Durga made sure that each one of us should be aware about our rights and privileges, and should act like a well aware citizens of the country.“ But laws are not enough for people to not discriminate. Lot of people and especially parents get protective of their kids when they see a transgender around and since transgender community is also not mentioned briefly in any kind of education process, it is difficult for people to know and be familiar with them. This naturally excludes them from others.
Rani shared an experience with Eat News, “Once I was returning home at about 8 pm. I stopped at a traffic light and there was this family on two-wheeler. A kid was sitting between his mother and father. I thought to go and ask for the money, but the moment his mother saw me approaching them, she closed his kid’s eyes and turned. I did not ask further and went away.“
About 96 per cent of transgenders are not given jobs and 60 per cent have never attended schools, according to the study on the rights of transgenders by National Human Rights Commission, but still, they are managing and trying to live normal life. “People look down on us as if we are some criminals. We have done nothing wrong. There are number of transgenders who are doing incredibly well and making our community proud. We just want acceptance by the society, so that we can also live freely and enjoy life just like other do“, said Rani.
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