Transgenders Enroll for Higher Studies, Seek Social Support
“Nature chooses who will be transgender; individuals don’t choose this”, quotes Mercedes Ruehl
The pain and agony of transgenders in society has long gone unnoticed but their willingness to excel in education and live a dignified life is now being noticed by the administration and the people of Udupi district. The Government of Karnataka has extended help to the transgenders through the Mythri scheme, where the monthly financial assistance of Rs 500 is paid.
The days have passed when transgenders were seen begging in the streets. Now we see them wanting to live a dignified life.
Mangalorean.com in its exclusive interview with Nagma, Kajol and Rathnakar of the transgender community highlights their success stories and their desire to pursue education.
Nagma (26), a school dropout from Mandya district, discontinued her studies after passing 7th standard. She moved to Mumbai and started to reside with her Guru. Nagma, along with other transgenders, then started begging in the streets of Mumbai. After returning to Udupi, Nagma continued to beg.
Kajol, born and brought up in Mandya, also moved to Mumbai and started to reside with her Guru. She had completed her Pre-University education and had passed with first class. Mangaluru attracted her says Kajol, as she had visited Mangaluru with her friend. She then joined an NGO managed by Alliance Company as a project manager in Ashraya. She was later promoted to project director.
The turning point in her life was the screening of ‘Nanu Awanalla Awalu’, a film directed by B S Lingadevaru. A like-minded WhatsApp group was created to screen this film in Udupi and likewise the film was screened. Kajol, together with Nagma, accompanied by their other friends, watched the first show in Alankar Theatre, Udupi. As the film was running, Nagma walked out and started crying, which was noticed by Associate Prof Manjunath Kamath from the Department of Journalism, MGM College Udupi. Prof Manjunath consoled Nagma and assured her of financing her and Kajol in continuing their studies.
In the following days, Prof Manjunath organized a student interaction programme with Nagma and Kajol at MGM College, Udupi. The students too assured their support to help Nagma and Kajol in their studies.
Deputy commissioner of Udupi district Dr R Vishal IAS also assured to provide necessary assistance to Kajol and Nagma to support them in their education. He also provided Kajol and Nagma with 12 cents of land for housing. For the first time in Karnataka, four transgenders have been given land and facilities to construct a house. This is an effort by the Udupi district administration to bring transgenders into the mainstream of the society. Deputy Director of Women and Child Welfare Department Gracy Gonsalves, together with Rajendra Bekal, has helped them immensely, says Kajol.
The people of Udupi have extended necessary support to bring transgenders to the mainstream of the society. The government of Karnataka is supporting the welfare of transgenders but it should reach every corner of our nation. The condition of transgenders in Bengaluru and other major cities is pathetic. They need rehabilitation and support.
If the government and society promote the welfare of transgenders, they can lead a dignified life and will be out of streets and the sex trade.
“K Prithika Yashini, the first transgender sub-inspector in India; Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the first transgender principal, and many others are our role models. They have scaled new heights because of education and sheer dedication. We want to excel in our studies and want to scale new heights. Discrimination in the society is still persistent. There are transgender graduates in Mangaluru who are deprived of all facilities extended to them,” says Nagma , adding, “The financial assistance of Rs 500 provided under the Mythri scheme cannot meet our daily needs. We have stopped begging but it is difficult to manage.”
Rathnakar another transgender is a resident of Udupi; a school dropout he manages his living by working in hotels and industrial establishments. He wants to continue his studies which can give him a good job to take care of himself. Rathnakar also worked as a project director in Ashraya NGO which has now closed down. Rathnakar is now jobless and is in search of a job.
Prof Manjunath Kamath has been promoting Rathnakar, Nagma and Kajol to continue their education. Nagma and Rathnakar will be continuing SSLC while Kajol pursues undergraduate studies in Bachelor of Arts.
Kajol says, “We are labeled with different names but our difficulties are not understood by the people. Other transgenders in Udupi are not joining our group but all efforts will be made to bring them to the mainstream.” Kajol says that she has been given employment in the DC’s office but because of her studies, she is yet to take a decision. “A survey should be held to identify transgenders and their problems should be addressed.”
Kajol also said that the District Superintendent of Police Annamalai had conveyed a special meeting urging police officials to respect transgenders.
There are many unseen Kajols and Nagmas in the society. Let us respect them and bring them to the mainstream of the society where education rules.