Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
10-year-old Hariharan (named Harini, at birth) from Tamil Nadu's Tiruchi had made up his mind to be a cop, the day he had witnessed a policeman coming to the rescue of a group of transgender people and saving them from a violent mob. He knew that he wanted to be one of those who could lend a voice to the voiceless in society.
However, as he turned 15, life had taken a drastic turn.
When he was studying in class 5, a realisation about her body transformation hit him. He observed some changes in the body and informed his family about identifying himself as a transgender but his family members did not accept it and subjected him to abuse and harassment.
"I loved wearing my mother's saree, mascara, lipstick and dance. I just loved myself and knew that this is me. My body started changing but my family didn't notice it. It was only in the past two years that I realised I was a transgender. However, my family didn't accept it. My elder brother and other family members used to torture me. I was forced to dress like a boy," Hariharan said, reported The New Indian Express.
Like a silver lining in the dark clouds, Hariharan found a person he could confide in, three months ago. Angel, a trans person living nearby, stepped up to help him—to get out of the house and work towards living a respectful life.
Angel wanted to ensure Hariharan's education did not suffer due to his gender orientation and got him enrolled in Class 11 at Sri Sivananda Balalaya institution. With this, Hariharan became the first transgender teen to stay in residential school.
Explaining the idea behind the hostel breaking the stereotype and playing a key role in this progressive step, Major General (retd) NRK Babu, the correspondent of the school said the institution did not want such students to drop out and hence this facility was set up.
"We have given the first admission to Harini. Her parents sent her away and this is exactly why we started this hostel, to ensure such children don't drop out. We are expecting more children to join soon," Babu said.
The publication reported that Angel along with the group of 25 individuals said that they want to ensure that Hariharan gets a chance at a proper education.
"I wasn't able to study beyond class 9. My family threw me out. We had to beg. When Harini came to me, I resolved I wouldn't let her life become like mine. Through some people I came to know about Sivananda Balalaya and contacted Babu sir," said Angel.
Hariharan dreams of being a sub-inspector and is hoping to get the gender reassignment surgery done when he turns 18.
Transforming The Lives
The transgender community has been subjected to prejudices and have been resorting to practises such as begging on the streets, train stations, dancing on festivities to earn a livelihood. However, increasingly the society has been seeing individuals from the community refusing to conform to the standards and taking the decisions of turning their lives around.
Education has been one of the major contributing factors helping the transgender community shatter the stereotype and earn a dignified living.
23-year-old Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju had to face vile name-calling till the day she graduated as a doctor and became Karnataka's first trans-woman surgeon. She took to social media to reveal her struggles leading to her achievements and shut her trolls.
"I channelized all my energy towards my studies. That was the one thing no one could take away from me. Over time I realised I wanted to use my knowledge in the operating room. I wanted to be a doctor. I finally found my path", said Trinetra, reported Hindustan Times.
National Human Rights Commission's Recommendations To Centre
The National Human Rights Commission's Core Group on LGBTQI, in its recently concluded meeting, recommended the Centre's to take a number of measures for the welfare of the community.
It asked the central government to take steps to sensitise law enforcement agencies including the police officials about the rights of the community and frame " strict and mandatory" laws against forced sex reassignment surgery and also include them in the quote mechanism which would enable them to get education and jobs
It also asked the authorities to initiate measures for capacity building and skill training programmes for the transgender community and create greater employment opportunities for them.
The meeting had discussed unequal protection in the matter of sexual offences for LGBTQI+ community, forced gender and sexuality conversion, right to self-perceived gender identity and invisibility of the issues and concerns particular to the intersex community.
Among the other recommendations, it mentioned that separate shelter homes and access to food should be ensured for all the estranged individuals from this community. There is also the need to introduce one-stop grievance redressal centres with representation from the LGBTQI+ community.
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