Bhubaneswar: The transgender community has faced many obstacles when it comes to their identity and survival in the society. We bring to you four such individuals of Odisha who braved all odds and fought for their rights with sheer courage and an indomitable spirit and emerged victorious:
The president of All Odisha Kinnar Mahasangha, Meera Parida of Begunia (Khordha district) is the first transgender entrepreneur in India, to have been approved for loans by a bank. She has also been granted an amount of Rs. 10 lakhs by Odisha Khadi and Village Industries Board to start a Khadi products manufacturing unit venture this year. Meera is known to be the first individual to declare her identity on television in 2009 and is a known activist for transgender and social causes.
Sadhana is the first transgender in the state to have been documented as a transgender in her passport in 2017. Born into a Brahmin family in Keonjhar district of Odisha, faced a lot of stigma since childhood due to her feminine bent. Today, with a Masters degree in Social Work, she has always strived to work for the welfare of the transgender community and other social development issues such as betterment of tribal children. She is currently employed as social development officer in the largest tribal development institution in India.
Aishwarya Rutuparna Pradhan
An Odisha bureaucrat, serving as Commercial Tax Officer in Paradip, Aishwarys is India’s first transgender civil servant to openly declare her identity. A native of Kanabari village in Kandhamal district of Odisha, she was once humiliated by her teacher and even abused by her peers for her feminine characteristics. She came out of the closet in 2015 after the landmark ruling of Supreme Court in April 2014 that recognized transgenders under the third gender category and guaranteed them constitutional rights.
She is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource (HR) and Marketing and was working as a journalist with a vernacular weekly paper, when Meghana became the first transgender cab driver in India in April this year. Narrating her experience to Odisha Sun Times then, the 28-year-old had said that most women passengers feel safe when she is behind the wheels. “Being a driver, my job is to make feel all passengers –women and men safe while they travel in my cabs,” she added, that customers treated her well.