"Every step is a fight Every breath a small victory A sheet of paper a milestone A pay slip, a dream that was feared to never come true."
Nayana is a male born transgender who has found her foot among the working class of Bangalore.Her message of hope, survival and success is an inspiration for people from her community, and for anyone who knows what it feels to be not accepted in a country that just likes to acknowledge two genders.
Nayana sits across me on the faded carpet in her office and recounts-
"I had the hardest time when I was growing up, discovering who I was and my family was distraught with that, especially my father.
At 22, I chose to undergo ‘castration’, a traumatic physical experience ,but that which gave me the ‘body I had always craved for’, that of a woman.
Taking a course in software programming , investing all my money in it , was the best decision of my life. Today I work as a community member in an NGO besides having a choice of finding work in Information Technology.
I chose to fight for my space, and here I am!
I know why transgender drop-out of school. I have known it in my own life. The boys tell us, don’t come here. The girls say don’t come here. In the way we are pushed out in every possible sense, dropping out of school is the most natural outcome. Where will we go??
I am sure many people do not realize that the way you treat us like dirtier-than-dirt affects our life decisions, we stop to go to school , we bid good bye to getting education, Though we know education is important, but our dignity is important as well.
I was one of the lucky ones to get to continue my education, in bits and pieces, with many disruptions in between that came from social pressure of being a transgender.
It’s a very complex environment we live and work in. While guarding our own rights and dignity at every step, sometimes depression sets in. It gets accentuated by the loneliness of not having family close to you.
We are being issued a gender certificate from the Government of Karnataka that allows us to say, I am a transgender. This has come about after years of struggling for our own identity.
It feels like victory now."
In the two hours I talked to Nayana in her office I found a powerful leader in her and a role model for her community. She has led her life with conviction, pursuing education and working to support herself in a culture which dismisses their very existence.
We would have to begin with our schools. We would have to make a new line , one that stands in between the all boys and all girls lines.That is education. That is empowerment.
For now, Shine Nayana Shine.
Urmila Chanam Activist & Journalist IndiaGirls Transform the World 2013