From being ridiculed in her childhood for wearing her mother’s saris, to being forced into sex work and abused by a family member, Amruta Alpesh Soni’s (38) journey has been replete of hardships.
Yet, the HIV-positive trans woman decided to not let societal taboos dictate her life. “I resolved to not shun a society that has been unkind to me. Instead, I wanted to reform it,” she said.
Soni, who completed graduation from Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, also holds an MBA from Symbiosis Institute in Pune. In 2015, she spoke about the “double stigma” of being a trans woman and a person living with HIV in India at the 14th Annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference organised by the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
After working as an advocacy officer in Chhattisgarh with Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust under Project Vihaan, she also worked as the director (health) with TRY, an NGO in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
“I’m nervous but happy. I want to tell the world that transgender people are not born just to beg; they can work and have a life beyond their gender identity,” she said.
Earlier this year, Amruta became the first trans member of a National Lok Adalat bench in Ranchi. She is presently working with the Uttar Pradesh Welfare for People Living with HIV/AIDS Society (UPNPplus) to help educate prison inmates on sexual and reproductive health in 44 jails across the state, among other initiatives.