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15 Transgender Folks Who Broke Social Stigma & Made It Big in 2017

2017 has been a tremendous year for the marginalised group, which continues to face social ostracisation even in today’s date and time.

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With many landmark judgements being decreed by the judicial bodies in recognition of the transgender community and their rights, 2017 has been a tremendous year for the marginalised group, which continues to face social ostracisation even in today’s date and time.

It was also the year when many transgender individuals assumed prominent positions in public and private sectors, breaking all barriers of societal conformity and opening the doors of education and employment for the community, which were previously out-of-bounds, to help them lead a life of dignity and respect that they rightly deserve.

Here are 15 noteworthy individuals from the transgender community who pushed through the thresholds of social stigma in 2017 and proved that if you wish hard enough, no dream or ambition is far away:

1. Kalki Subramaniam

Kalki Subramaniam at the conference. Source: Facebook.

This multi-hyphenated writer, activist, media personality, and actor, has been at the forefront fighting for transgender rights in India and took her message to a global platform in January when she was invited to speak at the two-day India Conference organised by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. Armed with double masters in Mass Communication and International Relations, Kalki’s brainchild, Sahodari Foundation, helps other transgender people like herself.

You can read her complete story here.

2. Atri Kar

Atri with her students. Source: Facebook.

27-year-old Atri Kar became the first transgender from West Bengal to appear for the civil services examinations in India. The schoolteacher from Hooghly’s Tribeni district took the state-level examination in January after two long years of legal struggles.

Although a Supreme Court decision in 2014 made it possible for transgenders to apply for education and employment under the ‘other’ category, the policy had not been implemented everywhere because of which Atri was unable to apply for the West Bengal Public Service Commission exam last year. She first filed a case against WBPSC in the Calcutta High Court, followed by an appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal, which decided the case in her favour.

You can read her complete story here.

3. Pranathi Prakash

For representative purposes. Source: Flickr.

The coordinator for Mysore’s Ashodaya Samithi, which works for the welfare of transgender and sex workers, Prakash is a transgender himself. He broke all norms associated with Hindu marriage traditions, when he performed all the rituals usually undertaken by a father at the wedding of his foster daughter, Sneha. Sneha is the daughter of Prakash’s sister Renuka and her husband Nandakumar and was informally adopted ten years ago.

You can read his complete story here.

4. K Prithika Yashini

India’s first ever transgender police officer‬, K Prithika Yashini. Source: Facebook.

K Prithika Yashini made history when she became the first transgender person in India to assume the post of a sub-inspector in Tamil Nadu state police. It was right after completing her undergraduate degree that Prithika, who was born Pradeep, underwent a sex change surgery and decided to reach for her dreams of becoming a police officer. After being disqualified and then rejected, owing to a discrepancy, Prithika took to the court and elicited an informal enquiry, before finally surpassing all barriers to her dream of serving in the police force.

You can read her complete story here.

5. Anjali Ameer

Anjali Ameer with her ‘Peranbu’ co-star Mammootty. Source: Facebook.

In a first for Indian cinema, a transgender actress was roped in to essay the lead role in a mainstream film. Anjali Ameer charted history, when she was recommended by none other than Mammootty, the Malayalam superstar, to his director, Ram, during the casting of the female lead in the film. A monumental move for Indian cinema because members of the LGBTQ community are often stereotyped and depicted as caricatures in mainstream movies. Anjali belongs to an orthodox Muslim family and had to run away from home before pursuing acting, and after a lifetime of battles to gain acceptance, this was an especially important moment for her.

You can read her complete story here.

6. Tarika Banu

Tarika Banu (right) with Grace. Source: Facebook.

22-year-old Tarika Banu made history when she cleared her 12th Board exams (HSC exams) with flying colours as the first registered transgender in the state of Tamil Nadu. Tarika had run away from her birth parents and her home in Thoothukudi district at 16 when she realised that she wasn’t accepted for who she was. Thankfully, she was found and adopted by transgender activist Grace Banu, who was determined to give her the best possible life and got her enrolled back in school. Grace also helped Tarika change her name, got her official identification and arranged for a sex reassignment surgery. Today, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor at Siddha Medical College.

You can read her complete story here.

7. Zara Sheikha

Zara Sheikha. Source: Facebook.

Appointed as Senior Associate, Human Resources, by UST Global, a company in Thiruvananthapuram’s Technopark, 27-year-old Zara Sheikha became the first transgender person in the state to get a job in an MNC. After years of hiding and struggling with her identity, it was one of Zara’s friends from the HR field, who helped her secure the job.

You can read her complete story here.

8. Gauri Sawant

Gauri Sawant with her daughter, Gayatri.

The Vicks advertisement commemorating Mother’s day earlier this year, featured Gauri Sawant, a transgender woman who forever broke the societal mould of motherhood pertaining only to women when she adopted a baby, who stood the risk of being sold to an agent after her biological mother passed away.

Taking the noble streak further, she raised money through crowdfunding to build a home for the children of sex workers, with the hope that given the right environment and coupled with love and support, these children could become anything they would want to be, instead of falling back to the vicious cycle.

You can read her complete story here.

9. Joyita Mondal

Joyita Mondal. Source: Facebook.

July 8, 2017, marked a milestone of a new era for the transgender community when Joyita Mondal’s white car with a red plaque stating ‘judgeship on duty’ entered the premises of West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur’s Islampur court.

Once forced to beg for a living, mocked and rejected at a BPO she worked at, to becoming a social worker on the bench for a National Lok Adalat, Joyita has always emerged victorious from her many struggles. A transgender activist, she is the founder secretary of Dinajpur Notun Aalo Society (DNAS), which works primarily for the LGBTQ community in Dinjapur and enables them to access all social and economic opportunities equally.

You can read her complete story here.

10. Aarav and Sukanyeah

Aarav and Sukanyeah. Source: Facebook.

Aarav Appukuttan, 46, was assigned female at birth, and Sukanyeah Krishna, 22, was assigned male. Both from Kerala, they met by chance at a hospital some three years ago, and during the time of their surgeries, they became close and began to share their experiences. Gradually, Aarav realised how similar they were and fell in love. With their sexes changed, Aarav went up to Sukanyeah, told her he didn’t care about the age gap between them and asked her if she’d marry him, to which she said yes. The rest was history, with the both becoming the first transgender couple to get married in India.

You can read their complete story here.

11. Sridevi

Source: Facebook.

In March, Sridevi became the first person in the history of the University of Mumbai, to officially enrol as a transgender student. After having worked various odd jobs over the years to be able to afford higher education, she had initially enrolled at Medical Laboratory Technology (DMLT) but had to drop out due to the fact that she couldn’t fund herself after a while. While her family did not support her sex change, she remained undeterred and further went on to pursue Bachelor of Arts, in Psychology, Literature and Sociology. Furthermore, she is also a Bharatnatyam dancer who has dabbled in interior designing and has also been a make-up artist.

You can read her complete story here.

12. Kajal

Kajal aka RJ Shubhamangala is the first transgender radio jockey to host a program. Source: Facebook.

Born in the village of Mandya in Karnataka, Kajal, who was biologically assigned male at birth, suffered from the deep distress of gender dysphoria at a young age. After finding no family or community support, she left Mandya at the age of 10 and came to Mumbai and settled in its suburb Malad.
Following many years of struggle and social alienation, Kajal found a mentor in MGM college lecturer Manjunath Kamath, who connected her to Spandana Channel’s Avinash Kamath who trained her for two months to compere shows. One thing lead to another and today she is the first transgender radio jockey of Coastal Karnataka and her show ‘Shubamangala,’ which kicked off on 21st November, airs on the community radio every Tuesday from 5-6 pm.

You can read her complete story here.

13. Ganga Kumari

Ganga Kumari, first transgender police constable. Source: Facebook.

When 24-year-old Ganga Kumari first applied to join the state police force of Rajasthan in 2015, she could have easily been India’s first transgender police constable. However, she was denied from taking up the post due to the lack of clarity regarding her gender and the rules of appointment. Nevertheless, this braveheart fought for two long years to claim her right to don the uniform and serve the nation in the state police force and on 13 November 2017, Ganga became Rajasthan State Police Force’s first and India’s third transgender cop.

You can read her complete story here.

14. Mona Varonica Campbell

Mona Varonica Campbell is the first plus-size transgender model in India, and that title alone breaks several stereotypes. Assigned the gender male at birth and having experienced gender dysphoria early in childhood, Mona found coming out extremely difficult, especially to her father. Nevertheless, with the support of her family, she went ahead with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and sex reassignment surgery. Beginning a new life as a confident woman in Canada, she received training by professional make-up artists and worked with reputed international brands as well, before opening the show for designer Wendell Rodricks at Lakmé Fashion Week and turning heads.

You can read her complete story here.

15. Esakki Muthu

Esakki Muthu at MSU. Source: Edexlive.

Born into a low-income family in Ambasamudram, Tamil Nadu, Esakki Muthu was assigned male at birth. After passing out of school in 2015, Esakki got admitted to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) but suffered from acute gender dysphoria. After completing her first year, she walked out of her home and went to Kanyakumari and lived with other transgenders. Following a sex change surgery, she found out about MSU offering free education to the community, and how the Vice-Chancellor of the university wanted them to study to lead a quality life. Esakki decided to go back and study at the University and is completing her second year of BBA and is the first transgender student in the university.

You can read her complete story here.

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.