A Dream Come True! Transgender Sanjana Chosen ‘Brand Ambassador’ for Nat’l Level Lagori Tourney

A Dream Come True! Transgender Sanjana Chosen ‘Brand Ambassador’ for Nat’l Level Lagori Tourney

Dream Come True! Transgender Sanjana S has been chosen ‘Brand Ambassador’ for the 7th Senior National Level Lagori Tournament to be organized by Pathway Enterprises in association with Amateur Lagori Association of India to be held at Karavali Utsav Ground during the first week of January 2018.

“To those who are bisexual, or transgender-let me say- you are not alone. Your struggle, for the end to violence and discrimination, is a shared struggle. Today, I stand with you. And I call upon all countries and people, to stand with you too. A historic shift is underway. We must tackle the violence, and end discrimination. We must educate the public. I call on the people of the world and people of conscience to make this happen. The time has come.”-Ban Ki-Moon- Former Secretary General of United Nation

Mangaluru: We have yet another transgender whose dream has also come true, where she was recently chosen as the ‘Brand Ambassador’ for the National Level Lagori Tournament to be organized by Pathway Enterprises in association with Amateur Lagori Association of India, to be held during the first week of January 2018. Meet the proud transgender, Sanjana S, aged 26 originally from Dandeli in Uttara Kannada, but now has made Mangaluru her hometown- and she says that she made the right choice by moving to Kudla, where she has made many friends, and that people here are friendly and courteous.

Sanjana’s dream was to become someone as a known figure in the society- and with her being chosen as the “Brand Ambassador” of this prestigious Lagori tournament, she is all overwhelmed that finally, her dream has come true. Sanjana hailing from Dandeli has her parents still living there, with dad working as a laborer, and mom a homemaker- she has a brother working at a resort. Her original name was Ganesh when she was born- but five years ago when she started liking the features of a woman and wanted to be one, she decided to change her sex through a surgery done at a Mangaluru Hospital, which cost her over Rs1 lakh- and she changed her name to Sanjana.

Transgender people are individuals whose gender identities do not pertain to their biological sex, and thus they differ from the stereotype of how men and women normally are. ‘Transgender’ does not include sexual orientation or physical sex characteristics, but is, in fact, a less clinical term which pertains to gender identity and gender expression. Thus transgender people encompass those people whose identity and behaviour do not adhere to the stereotypical gender norms. Since the beginning of time and the existence of mankind, transgenders have been very much a part of the society. It is just that they have been given a name and a status in the society in recent times, and now there is even medical technology available especially for them.

The problems faced by the transgender people here include: they are shunned by family and society alike; They have restricted access to education, health services and public spaces; Till recently, they were excluded from effectively participating in social and cultural life; Politics and decision-making processes have been out of their reach; Transgender people have difficulty in exercising their basic civil rights; Reports of harassment, violence, denial of services, and unfair treatment of transgender persons have come to light; and Sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is criminalized, and is punishable by incarceration.

Observing all the inconveniences, hassles, problems and discrimination faced by the Transgenders in the society, Violet Pereira- the proprietor/Editor-in-chief of Mangalorean.com acting as a Good Samaritan, having pity on the Transgenders the way they live in the community, thought of doing something good to the Transgenders by forming a Charitable Trust- a meeting was scheduled with the Transgenders to discuss their problems, where they openly expressed their desire to “Change “(Parivarthan)- and thus the “Parivarthan Charitable Trust” was conceived on 30 August 2016, and since its inception the Trust has been doing its best in everything to transform the lives of Transgenders, including getting them the Aadhar Card, Voters ID, Health Card from KMC, enrolling them in various trade related courses and so on.

Prior to moving to Mangaluru, Sanjana was earning her living through sex work, but after she became a member of Parivarthan Trust her lifestyle has changed, and has been leading a decent life-she has even stopped begging but manages to make her ends meet somehow, where she has to pay towards her apartment (in Kapikad) rent of Rs 4000, food and other personal expenses. “Only if we someone employs us or government gives us some aid, we could live a life without any inconveniences or hardships, but sadly we are still been neglected,” says Sanjana.

When asked how she felt when she was chosen as Brand Ambassador, she replied, “This is the greatest moment in my life. I was hoping that someday I would be recognized in the society, and I am very thankful to Deepak Ganguli Sir of Pathway Enterprises for giving me a chance to come up in life amidst others in the community. I would like people to understand that we are also people. We’re human beings, and this is a human life. This is the reality for us, and all we ask for is acceptance and validation for what we say that we are. It’s a basic human right. Violet Maam has helped us to fight for the rights of the Transgenders, and trying to bring a change in our lives through various training and projects.”

“Along with her husband, Joseph Sir-whom I respect them as Mom and Dad, they have done enough to the transgenders, including myself. The Trust has now given a chance for to raise our voices in the society, face like other human beings and mingle with rest of the community without any fear or shame. This kind of idea of starting a Trust in Mangaluru for Transgenders should inspire others to open such Trusts in their respective towns and states. I also request the law enforcement authorities to fully support and give protection to Transgenders in our time of needs and consider us just like other people. But sadly a few fake transgenders are spoiling our names by involving themselves in illegal activities- and they even stopped us from getting the land, homes once sanctioned by the government-, hope that we will succeed in getting this free land so that we could have our own homes” added Sanjana.

When asked what she expects in her life, Sanjana replied saying, “My yet another dream is to have my own home, and also get a good job so that I can earn my living. I am also looking forward to a good life partner. Also anticipating that the government will come to our rescue in helping us financially or finding us a good job where we could earn money to support us. Being a girl is easy, Being a Boy is also easy-but being a boy and then changing to a girl is not easy and gets you in hardship. But I have faith in God and Parivarthan Trust that someday we will be able to lead a better life like others. Once again my sincere thanks to Deepak Ganguly and also Violet Maam for making a difference in my life”.

Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, organizer of Lagori tournament Deepak Ganguli of Pathway Enterprises said, “Lagori is no longer just a child’s play. We had successfully conducted the District level Lagori Tournament in June 2017, and the Board members of The Amateur Lagori Association of India were impressed by the manner in which the district-level tourney was conducted and hence asked us to hold the seventh national-level tourney under the Amateur Federation of India. The 7th event will be held in the Karavali Utsav grounds. The sixth edition was held in Rajasthan last year.”

“We are expecting at least 15-20 states to participate and we’re hopeful that at least three players from Mangaluru will be representing the Karnataka men’s team. Before the national tourney, a selection camp will be held in Mangaluru, which will see the participation of at least 200 players (men) from across the state. In an attempt to popularize the game, plans are to hold premier league matches on the beachside. The top 15 players will represent Karnataka in the national match and our aim is to have at least one player from Mangaluru for the World Cup to be held in May next year at Mumbai,” added Ganguli.

He further said, “We have received queries from women players wanting to participate. As the Association has informed that the state team (women’s) has already been finalized, we will also hold matches for women next year. The ancient and traditional lagori (seven stones) sport is expected to get a boost with our City hosting the 7th national level championship here. The objective is to revive this traditional game and get the sports official recognition globally. With this objective, federations have been formed at the national level. The game has a huge following among students and youth. All we need to make the game in vogue is to introduce it in schools and colleges. Although lagori is played in 12 countries, including India, where this traditional sport is popular in 27 states.”

“Lagori World Cup was held a couple of years ago, but no one was aware of it. The game has been totally neglected and sidelined here in the coastal region, whereas in Northern states it is being played grandly. We have been invited to watch Lagori matches on the national stage, but unfortunately, we don’t have teams to represent our region on the national level. This tournament will help us to build a team to participate in national level tourneys. Lagori, as we all remember, is one of the noisiest, happening and fun-filled games that we have played as kids. If you crave to re-live that experience again, all you need to do is get your team together and enroll yourself for the next Lagori tournament. The professionalism for Lagori shall be much emphasized in the tournament by the judges arriving from Lagori Association, who shall pick the best players who shall be further trained and sent into larger tournaments. This is hence a great platform for talented young people to experience a rural game turn professional, as well as make their mark as a player” said Deepak.

When asked what made him to choose a transgender as Brand Ambassador, and did he receive any objection from the Lagori Federation for his decision, Deepak said, “In the eyes of God we are equal-there should not be any discrimination between regular people or transgenders. There is nothing wrong with choosing a transgender as our brand ambassador. India is land of diversity, tradition, culture and various types of people. We should not discriminate anyone because we are all children of God created equally. Just because there area few bad people in an organization, you should not consider the entire organization as bad. Similarly, there may be a few bad Transgenders, that doesn’t mean that the entire Transgender community is bad. There has been no objection from the Lagori Federation regarding choosing a Transgender- even though a few people had raised a voice against it, the Federation has approved our decision. We are looking forward to an exciting and thrilling National Level Lagori Tournament come January 2018, and I am sure that Sanjana is looking forward to that great day”.

In conclusion as per my perspective, Transgenders too need to be recognized and encouraged for their talents by society. Most of the transgenders do not get the opportunity to come out and mix with other people in the society due to certain barriers and the mindset of the people. Seems like things have been good enough lately that a lot of previously closeted transgender people have come out and/or begun transitioning, and people have realized that they know more trans folks than they thought.These things put together have meant that people are aware of trans people as real people, rather than the negative stereotypes that were so prevalent and so toxic years ago. And with the formation of Parivarthan Charitable Trust Trust which has always been there to address the problems of the Transgenders since its inception, and has been trying to bring every Transgenders in and around Mangaluru to the mainstream.

There are so many unsung, un-wept and un-honoured in the journey called life. Time and again these Transgenders continue to do great work without even asking for anything. It behooves us to elevate such human beings to such recognition, encouragement, goodwill or help is sometimes the only thing they (transgenders) need, like a pat on the back or encouragement, like Sanjana and Kajal have received now. And remember, Transgenders are also people. They’re human beings, and have a human life! It would thus be wrong to judge and discriminate people who may be different from the stereotype, which again is man-made. It is time that India realized that every individual in this country has equal rights and privileges, and follow the policy of “live and let live.” Let’s treat the Transgenders equally, after all, we are all God’s children created equally.

So if you’re an enthusiast, make sure you don’t miss this rare chance of living the experience of Lagori! If you need more details call Deepak Ganguli at: 7411765666!

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