Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


Success Stories of Kolkata’s Transgender Community – GetBengal story

24 June, 2024 17:06:34
Success Stories of Kolkata’s Transgender Community – GetBengal story

The LGBTQAI+ community and their allies celebrate Pride in the month of June. During this period, members of the community advocate for their rights in the hopes of increasing the visibility of their issues. This community of diverse sexualities and identities has only become visible in recent years. The Supreme Court may have decriminalised homosexuality and given recognition to transgender people as the third gender, but the community continues to struggle on a day-to-day basis. Especially the transgender community, which has been historically marginalised and frequently discriminated against. Ostracised and harassed, their voices are forcefully silenced. Despite facing such hardships, there have been quite a handful of success stories. The time has come to start highlighting the achievements of trans people instead of only highlighting their destitution.

GetBengal interviewed Dr. Ranjita Sinha and Ms. Shruti Chakraborty, who identify as transwomen, and Rayan Sher, who identifies as a transman, about their successes and the obstacles they faced in their journey to have respectable jobs.

Dr. Ranjita Sinha

Transgender rights activist Dr. Ranjita Sinha has dedicated the last thirty years to improving the lives of transgender people in Bengal and India. She started her work in Bengal by being a member of the West Bengal Transgender Persons Development Board and was the mastermind behind Garima Greh, which is a network of shelters for trans people spread all over India. Now there is a national portal for this scheme, managed by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Empowerment. She has also started a self-help group to provide training skills to trans people to help them secure jobs and find better standing in society. 

“We may be downtrodden in society, but we also have success stories.”

When asked about people stereotyping her and relating her to trans beggars on the streets, she replied, “People don’t mistake me to be a ‘hijra’ since I have a PhD. But people still often stereotype transgender people. For me, Pride Month is not much different. Our fight continues in all months, and we must appreciate this fight all year-round, not just during Pride Month."

Rayan Sher

"I have been a victim of discrimination often. Trans people do not have access to separate facilities, and many people are angered by my presence. I have been kicked out of metros and buses because of my gender. Things are getting better, but there is still a long way to go in terms of inclusivity and awareness of complex and diverse gender identities.”

Rayan Sher is a transman working at the Hyatt Regency in Kolkata. He has undergone surgeries to transition from being a woman to a man, including top and bottom surgeries. His journey started in Garima Greh, under the mentorship of Dr. Ranjita Sinha. When asked about the challenges of transgender people, he explained, “Our challenges are slightly different. Since being a female in society is still considered taboo and I was transitioning from a female to a male, I was afraid of coming forward. I think most transmen are afraid of coming forward because we are still afraid of sexual assault and physical abuse. I am working now, so I would say I am lucky enough to be financially independent and in a better position than many other transmen, who are not as visible as transwomen. Despite jobs being available for us, there is a lot that still needs to be improved. I am not discriminated against at my workplace, but I am teased and asked uncomfortable questions about my body and the change that I have chosen. Overall, things are changing in West Bengal, but compared to other states, it is falling back as there are no state laws for our protection and rights.”

Ms. Shruti Chakraborty

Shruti Chakraborty is a transwoman also working at the Hyatt Regency Kolkata. Her journey also started in Garima Greh. When asked about the challenges of trans people finding jobs, she replied, “It has been tough to find jobs, especially since unemployment is on the rise. It is even more difficult for us to get jobs here, in Kolkata, since we are trans. Many job portals don’t even have accommodations for our gender identity and do not include the option of a third gender. I am lucky to get a job at the Hyatt Regency. There are companies now in Kolkata offering jobs to trans people, but it is still not enough. Many of us who have no other options are forced to consider prostitution and becoming hijras on the streets. There are also many fraudsters—men who dress up as women to beg—but there are also genuine transwomen who have no other option of survival. I do agree that we are now in a much better position after Supreme Court rulings and other facilities, but a lot more needs to change.”

Pride Month is important for increasing trans visibility and spreading awareness about different sexualities and gender identities. Every identity is not a simple binary. It is made of complex elements. Pride is celebrated in the month of June to finally give this community the acceptance and respect that they deserve in the society.

Leave a Comments

Related Post