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Bridging the Deficit: 24 Year Old West Bengal Transwoman Jiya to Become Paramedics

Jiya and Debdutta are studying hard with a batch of 50 paramedical course trainees to equip themselves with the right set of skills for a stable career

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A transwoman paramedic
Tempo Trax LWB Ambulance, Bangalore 2010. Wikimedia Commons
  • Transwoman from West Bengal is blazing a trail of success as a trainee in an operation theatre (OT) technician’s course
  • They are learning about anatomy, infection control, how OTs function and things needed to run an OT among others
  • The course fee of Rs 25,000 for a year has been waived for Jiya and Debdutta

Aug 16, 2017: Twenty-four-year-old Jiya was once forced to dance at gunpoint. Now the plucky transwoman from West Bengal is blazing a trail of success as a trainee in an operation theatre (OT) technician’s course Thanks to a collective effort by queer activists, social workers and healthcare experts, along with Jiya, transwoman Debdutta is also being trained to become an OT technician, not only empowering her community but also bridging the deficit in India’s paramedical personnel sector.

At the School for Skills: Allied Health Sciences located in the Sirona Hospital Group premises in East Midnapore district’s Panskura, Jiya and Debdutta are studying hard with a batch of 50 paramedical course trainees to equip themselves with the right set of skills for a stable career.

“Usually people have an idea that transgenders beg, dance for livelihood. I come from a very poor family and despite being a graduate, I had to face obstruction to eke out a living due to my gender identity. I started to dance in Bihar villages… this continued for three to four years. I also earned money through painting alpanas (traditionl patterns) in villages,” Jiya told IANS.

“Now, I feel we have a choice for a career,” said Jiya, who hails from Malda.

“The idea was to have freedom of choice. Just because they are transgender, it doesn’t mean they are not educated and can only beg for a livelihood. They now have an option to be a part of the technical staff of a hospital,” said Mimo Koushik, who identifies himself as queer and is a social entrepreneur with the NGO Prantakatha.

Koushik, also the founder of Sathrangi, a transfeminine clothing, home decor and stationery brand, said the transwomen are being trained free of cost as part of a pilot.

“If we can give them access to opportunity then they can be skilled and trained to work in the healthcare sector. The sector needs people in large numbers and the working conditions are dignified for women,” said Satadal Saha, a general surgeon, also the CEO of the hospital group.

The course fee of Rs 25,000 for a year has been waived for Jiya and Debdutta.

Upon completion, they will be placed with the hospital, said Saha, who is spearheading the training programme along with his team as part of JSV Innovations, that works towards livelihood creation among rural youth with low formal education through training and skilling of a large number of allied health professionals.

Also Read: India becoming more Transgender- Friendly: Read this report 

“Initially, we have taken only two from the community under our wing. We did not know how they would feel… how others would feel and how they will cope with the course. From the next batch, we will able to take in more students. They are learning very fast and it is encouraging to see how they have accepted everyone and everyone has accepted them… they never sit alone… they are surrounded by friends,” said Saha.

They are learning about anatomy, infection control, how OTs function and things needed to run an OT among others, said Saha. The course is affiliated with the National Skill Development Corporation. The hospital takes care of boarding and lodging.

According to Bappaditya Mukherjee of Prantakatha, their training also ensures the creation of infrastructure for the community.

“Often in hospital settings, doctors have inhibitions about treating transgender patients, so having trained people from the community would ensure access to treatment,” Mukherjee said.

As for Jiya, there is no looking back now. (IANS)

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A Tale of Resilience and Courage : India’s First Transgender Judge Joyita Mondal

If we tell you about this Lok Adalat judge and her journey- tales of her struggle and battles against her family and the society at large, you would have nothing short of immense respect for her.

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Joyita Mondal
Joyita Mondal is the first transsgender judge in India. Facebook

West Bengal, October 18, 2017: “People almost treated me as an untouchable, and even passed abusive comments. But now people even come to me often requesting me to mediate in family disputes,” said an evidently ecstatic Joyita Mondal Mahi.

If we tell you about this Lok Adalat judge and her journey- tales of her struggle and battles against her family and the society at large, you would have nothing short of immense respect for her.

If we told you about her sexuality next, it may elevate your curiosity a little.

But what if we told you Joyita Mahi Mandal is India’s first transgender judge? Would it make a difference?

Should it make a difference?

From Joyonto to Joyita – Early Life

Joyita, who was born male and given the name Joyonto by her middle-class family, used to play games usually played by girls at the age of 3. Assuming that these interests would soon take the ‘regular route’ towards more boys-oriented activities, family members and parents ignored a young Joyonto’s behavior. However, the change never happened.

According to reports, Joyonto was once scolded for wearing make-up, a behavior unusual for boys to partake; subjected to bullying from classmates for feminine gesticulation, Joyonto was forced to leave school.

Lack of support from the family and school-mates alike forced Joyonto to escape from home in 2009, after which days turned to months, and then years, begging for a livelihood and sleeping on the roads.

As a transgender forced to beg on the streets to a social worker and finally assuming the chair as India’s first transgender judge at the Lok Adalat in Islampur in the North Dinajpur district of Bengal, Joyita’s journey has been extraordinary!

India’s first transgender judge
Joyita Mondal Mahi. Facebook

Challenging the Society

“Transgender” is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of identities, one of them identified as ‘hijras’ – people whose gender identities do not match with their biological sex.

Hijras, a term commonly implied for the transgender community in India, are often looked down upon by the Indian society. They are mocked for their mannerisms, are often made to feel ‘different’, and labeled as suitable only for begging or unskilled work.

Life was no different for Joyonto on the streets.

Now transitioned into Joyita, she demanded nothing less than what she deserved – respect and dignity that every human being deserves, despite their sexual orientation. A struggle that was not easy, her efforts eventually paid off and she crossed several milestones.

Joyita’s Efforts For A Larger Good

According to a report, Joyita established an NGO by the name of ‘Dinajpur Notun Alo Society’ to cater to the transgender community in North Dinajpur district. She had been working on a range of issues related to the transgender community since 2011

It was there that she got in touch with her ‘godfather’ Thanduk Sherpa, Islampur’s Deputy Collector and Magistrate.

Her godfather introduced Joyita to a former additional district judge Subrata Poley, who, impressed by her zeal and enthusiasm to fight against gender bias, recommended Joyita’s name for a judge in the Lok Adalat (civil court).

Finally, Joyita Mahi Mondal was appointed as India’s first transgender judge in Islampur Lok Adalat on July 8 this year

A Lok Adalat comprises of a senior judge, an advocate, and a social worker. Joyita, as a social worker, has assumed the position of a judge. And now enters the premises in a white ambassador- a vehicle categorized for government officials.

Has Joyita Been Subjected To Discrimination At The Adalat?

Joyita’s appointment as India’s first transgender judge was welcomed by friends and supporters from the transgender community who had flooded her Facebook account with congratulatory messages.

Sometimes I can feel negative vibes from those whose cases I adjudicate — strange gaze, or body language. However, I must add that none of them has insulted me. At times, a few are just surprised to see a transgender on the chair of judge.”
– Joyita Mondal, as told to Hindustan Times

However, according to her, the environment in the Adalat is very professional and she has never faced any discrimination. She also added that the fellow judges in the court have also been extremely cooperative and treat her with dignity.

However, India’s first transgender judge is yet to gain acceptance from her family and parents.

The Long Battle Ahead

After the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in 2014 recognizing the third gender under the law that is neither male nor female, attention was brought where it was due – on one of India’s most marginalized groups, transgenders. The ruling redefined their rights and the state’s responsibility to ensure their development and growth.

Things have certainly looked up thereafter for members of the Indian transgender community- whether it was about finding employment in public offices or seeking admissions in National Universities.

However, the battle has not been won completely.

There is limited data on the total estimated population of the transgender community in India, but anecdotal evidence amounts it between a half a million to two million people.

While members of the transgender community have legally gained recognition, the decision is yet to seep down to the root level as they continue to face criticism and alienation from the larger society.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 aims to ensure greater involvement of the trans people in the medical sector and welfare schemes and programmes, thus allowing for a more inclusive society. The Bill is currently pending approval.

In the words of India’s first transgender judge, ““More time is required for the society to change and we have to give it time.”

 

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Women-Only Murray Edwards College of Cambridge University to Accept Transgender Students

Formerly known as New Hall, Murray Edwards has, up till now, been a women-only Cambridge college

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Murray Edwards
The college wishes to support students who do not wish to define themselves as either male or female. PIxabay

Cambridge, October 5, 2017 : Murray Edwards College at the Cambridge University, in a first of its kind step, has announced to consider applications from all students who ‘identify’ as female. The college wishes to support students who do not wish to define themselves as either male or female.

According to the official statement released by the college, the move comes from an understanding that asserts that gender is not binary. “Many of us within the college…have concerns that narrow gender identities and the expectations associated with them are damaging both to individuals and to wider society,” it said.

Formerly known as New Hall, Murray Edwards has, up till now, been a women-only Cambridge college.

Transgender students applications are now being taken into account for the 2018 intake. Alternatively, the criteria would also apply to those who wish to transfer to the college during their degree.

Gender issues have been at the centre of popular debates in the recent past. Due to increased attention and awareness, these exists a greater understanding of the complexities of gender in the present societies. The move by the council of Murray Edwards comes as an attempt to open their doors to ‘all exceptional women’.

Dame Barbara Stocking, the president of the Murray Edwards College was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “In order that we remain true to our mission of being open to all exceptional young women we recognize that it is right for anyone who identifies as female, regardless of their born gender, to be able to apply to study with us.”

Admissions Policy

The institute previously followed the admissions policy applicable to Cambridge University’s two other women-only colleges- Newnham and Lucy Cavendish. According to prevailing policies, these institutes accept applicants who are legally recognized as women.

However, Murray Edwards will now be opening its doors to students who ‘identify’ as a woman at the time of applications and to those applicants who had been identified as male at birth but have ‘taken steps to live in the female gender’.

According to reports, Lucy Cavendish is also expected to espouse a similar change after a council meeting.

The move has garnered mixed responses from the larger community.

On one side, supporters of gender diversity and the transgender community have appreciated the college for their decision. A charity organization, Mermaids took to Twitter to thank the college authorities for “embracing all young women.”

However, like every coin has two sides, the college authorities have also received significant backlash ever since the formal announcement was made.

The decision has been termed ‘ridiculous’ and ‘illogical’ by several feminists. A former lecturer at Newnham told The Telegraph, “If Murray Edwards really don’t believe that gender is binary, then they really shouldn’t be a single sex college.”

Top 5 LGBTQ Friendly Colleges and Universities

  1. Princeton University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
  4. University of Pennsylvania
  5. University of California Los Angeles

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Talent Galore at the Auditions of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 Beauty Pageant

The pageant aims to provide all women with equal opportunity to showcase their potential, and discover and improve their expertise and talent.

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The jury of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017
The jury of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017

Kanpur, September 26, 2017 : Every beauty queen has a story to tell – stories of competition, confidence, and growth. Stories of belief, persistence, and victory. A story talking about her success and taking home the crown. But what is truly intriguing is to hear such success stories from married women in India, who dare to take a shot at fulfilling their dreams even after the society tells them otherwise. And this is the essence behind the competition, ‘Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017’.

ALSO READ Honoring Married Women- Glimpses of the Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017: A Pathway to Mrs UP 2017

A unique beauty pageant currently taking roots in one of India’s largest states, Uttar Pradesh, Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 is a pathway to the Mrs. UP beauty pageant that witnesses participants from all across the country.

Currently in its first phase, the audition and elimination round of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 was organized on September 19 that saw participation from over 56 women, out of which the best 12 participants have been shortlisted for the second round.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017
Participants at the Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 competition.

The jury for the audition round included Mrs. Aditi Shukla, President, Inner wheel Club & Owner of Canpore Girls P.Ltd, Mrs Jaya Srivastava, noted singer and lyricist, who is also the Director of SUR TALL SANGAM and Dr. Ira Tripathi (P.hD) Clinical Psychologist & Counselor. Also in the panel were Mr. Sachin Mishra, director of Online Services P.Ltd. and Ms. Rashmi Dharampal Singh Bhadauria, director of A2Z Brand Communication Group.

The participants were judged on a variety of parameters that evaluated their confidence, wit, talent, presence of mind and also closely looked upon their personal achievements.

Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017
Women from different age groups and backgrounds were part of the auditions of Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017

A second phase of auditions and elimination has also been scheduled wherein the judges will shortlist six more participants to compete for the title of Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017, to be held on October 14.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 aims to not only bring spotlight where it is due- on the married women who successfully manage work and personal life, but the competition also lends support to acid attack survivors and the transgender community of the Indian society who have chosen to not let circumstances hold them back.

The pageant aims to provide all women with equal opportunity to showcase their potential, and discover and improve their expertise and talent.

Jury, Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017
Jury, Radiant Mrs Kanpur 2017

Thus, several acid attack survivors and transwomen also participated in the auditions, who took to the ramp to showcase their confidence and strength, thereby challenging the society’s trivial perception of beauty.

Radiant Mrs. Kanpur 2017 aims to bring together married women from all walks of life, to compete for the crown. The winner of the competition will also get an opportunity to participate in the upcoming Mrs. UP competition.