Finding respect after 20 years of hiding, transwoman employed as HR professional in ChennaiThink Change India
Anjana Devi was born in a village near Tirunelveli as the second son in a family of three brothers. Since primary school, she has thought of herself as a girl. But in a village in rural Tamil Nadu, expressing her desire to be a girl was impossible. In fact, she faced humiliation for years as she could not hide the mannerisms that did not match the gender assigned to her at birth. As a result, despite all the suffering, she finished her master's without being able to embrace the woman in her.
Recalling that period, in an interview with YourStory, she said,
"From childhood I faced constant humiliation because of my voice and my manners which weren’t masculine. Hence I grew up with low self-esteem and was always afraid of opening up to people."
After 20 years of living a lie, Anjana was not having any more of it. During her MBA, she started exploring opportunities of transforming into a woman. But all the transwomen she went to for advice were against the idea as they did not want her to face the humiliation they had experienced.
When the harassment continued despite her being one of the top students and getting a job through campus placement, Anjana was broken. In her words,
"Though I worked hard, my self-esteem went for a toss because of all the ridiculing. Most colleagues just treated me like some sort of entertainment. I was frustrated."
So she kept shifting from one job to another in Chennai hoping to get the treatment she deserved. In the meantime, she started working with Sakhi, a trust working for trans people. She joined them and started dressing up as a woman without telling her family about it because of the emotional blackmail they subjected her to.
That was when she got a job in Valeo India Pvt Ltd's HR department. Though she is the first transwoman in her office, coworkers have been friendly and sensitive. She says,
"Even before I joined the office, they called and inquired about my preferences regarding the toilet and other ways they could help me. And my coworkers treat me like a woman."
Being accepted as a woman gives Anjana a sense of happiness she cannot explain in words. Unfortunately, though, her troubles didn't end there. Finding a hostel was another battle altogether as no women's hostel was ready to take her in. After months of struggle, she finally found a place on the outskirts of Chennai, in OMR. She is looking forward to the day when her older brother gets married so that she can come out as a woman to her family.
Read this in Tamil.