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Bar Dancer to Coastal Karnataka’s 1st Transgender RJ, Kajal’s Story Defines Sheer Grit!

Born male at birth in the village of Mandya, in Karnataka, even at the age of eight, Kajal knew she was different.


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“I could never fit amongst boys my age. I loved to sit with the girls chatting, singing and dancing to film songs,” recalls Kajal.

Born male at birth in the village of Mandya, in Karnataka, even at the age of eight, Kajal knew she was different. She continues, “I was once mocked by a Math teacher for my feminine traits and refused to go to school for a few days.” The gender dysphoria was suffocating. But who could she talk to?

Neither men nor women in her family would understand why she felt trapped in the body of a man.

When she met senior transgender activist, Mahadevi, in Class 7, it was as if all her confusions had vanished. She understood that their lives were difficult–being on the fringes of society and abandoned by their own families for accepting their identity.

When she grew her hair out, villagers would mock and hurl abuses. Forced to wear pants and shirts to appear ‘manly’, she left Mandya to come to Mumbai.

Bar Dancer to Coastal Karnataka’s 1st Transgender RJ, Kajal's Story Defines Sheer Grit!

At 13, she underwent sex reassignment surgery, cleared Class 10 and even nailed the PUC exams with an impressive 85%.

“I cannot tell you the independence I felt when I first wore a saree freely or pierced my ears and nose,” Kajal beams.

But when she returned home as a woman, her brother mocked and insulted her. Her amma and appa, though, pained by the years spent apart, accepted her.

“You can be whoever you want to be; I will love you regardless. But stay with me,” her amma had whispered, sobbing. But she couldn’t as there were no opportunities for her there. So Kajal returned to Mumbai.

Lack of employment pushed her to work as a bar dancer, even beg at times. As a dancer with a circus company, she reached the coastal village of Brahmavar in Karnataka.

It has been her home since. It was during her stay there that Manjunath Kamath, a lecturer at MGM College supported her and gave her the opportunity to study further. He also took her to educational institutions to share her story, and the exposure enhanced her public speaking skills.

To support her lifelong dream to be an anchor, he connected her to Spandana Channel’s Avinash Kamath who trained her. At one such felicitation, Abhishek Shetty got in touch with her. He worked with Radio Sarang, 107.8 FM, a community radio station run by St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru. Impressed by her speech, he invited her to the station’s studio for an interview.

After the conversation, he told her that she was going to be a radio jockey at the community radio station. “I thought my heart would burst,” she laughs.

Kajal’s show ‘Shubamangala’ kicked off on 21st November 2016, airing on Radio Sarang every Tuesday from 5-6 pm, where she spoke to different members from the community and highlighted their issues.

From begging on the streets to becoming coastal Karnataka’s first transgender RJ and even working in a film, Kajal’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring.

Much can be attributed to her resilience not to be bogged down by circumstances, her long fight helped her become who she always wanted to be.

Know more about Kajal’s journey here:

“People get tangled in the complexities of caste, religion, gotra and status. But in our community, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is–who you want to be,” she signs off.

Kajal’s journey of resilience can be a lesson for many investors as well. Just like her, one needs to be resilient with investments too.

Your potential to create wealth increases with a longer holding period across up and down market cycles. In fact, the benefits of SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans) can be seen more in a down market cycle when one can buy more mutual fund units for the same money. This is also called ‘Rupee Cost Averaging’. These units, bought at a lower cost may give an upside when the market cycle turns bullish.

It is not easy to be resilient and investors may feel the urge to stop their SIPs when markets are not doing well. But it has been proven time and again that long term investors have a better opportunity to create wealth.

Stay Resilient – In life and your investments. 

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Disclaimer: An Investor Education and Awareness Initiative by Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

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Written by Jovita Aranha

A lover of people, cats, food, music, books & films. In that order. Binge-watcher of The Office & several other shows. A storyteller on her journey to document extraordinary stories of ordinary people.