Fighting Prejudice June 24, 2007Posted by qmediawatch in Transgender.
“I am trying to clear the misconceptions that people have about transgenders and Kotis. As we tend to be at the fringes of the society, everything negative is attributed to us. I was a victim of discrimination once. After being equipped with a voice, I have made it a mission to help those who are as clueless about their rights as I once was,”says Sarkar who claims that his stint with various NGOs helped him understand his rights. “ Five years ago I was a different person. I was constantly in fear of being victimised. Which probably embittered me too. But slowly I realised that I need to have confidence in myself. If I don’t respect myself , nobody else will,” claims Sarkar.
The middle sex
Amitava’s journey of self-discovery has taken him to the so-called underbelly of the society. The dismal life of hijras and kotis disillusioned this young social worker. “In my efforts to empower those who have little acceptance in the society, I have had the privilege to interact with those whom we are most happy to ignore, hijras. Though they lead a sad, stigmatised existence, most of these people are full of life and hope,” states Sarkar who regularly visits hijra colonies to propagate safe sex and other health precautions. “Many of them resort to prostitution but have no knowledge about the precautions to be taken and the risk of HIV,” says Sarkar.
Kolkata and beyond
Sarkar’s work takes him to small towns around the city. And wherever he goes he makes it a point to disseminate confidence and knowledge to his transgender sisters. “Towns like Burdwan and Balasore (Orissa) have a sizable transgender population. Many a time they don’t need to be made aware of health related issues. Sometimes we just sit and share experiences, which I think is very important, because only through exchange of ideas can knowledge be properly disseminated,” says Sarkar.
The indifferent straight world
“ The most frustrating thing for any sexual minority is to be misunderstood,” says Sarkar. The mainstream society, according to him, is blinded by misconceptions. “Which is why I ask my fellow transgenders to make it a point to talk and reason with those who show contempt. After all, even they are victims of ignorance,” sums up Sarkar.