Janaki, a 26-year-old transwoman, was born as Penugonda Siva in Andhra Pradesh. She saw herself as a girl since her childhood, but could do nothing about it as long as she stayed with her family, because of stigma and prejudice. So, after graduating, she ran away from home to embrace her identity, begged in streets, before becoming the first transwoman to be employed by the AP government, two degrees holder at that.
Janaki grew up as Penugonda Siva, and finished her Bachelor's in Computer Science. She grew up wanting to be a teacher and it was after she turned 20 that she realised not embracing her identity was too much to bear. Hence, she ran away from home. Recalling what it was like to be ‘different’ while growing up, she told The News Minute,
“My brothers and my parents, fearing how society would react, beat me up when I told them that I wanted to wear a saree and be like a girl.”
Talking about her college days, she added,
“There were only a few days when I didn’t cry, when I wasn’t bullied there. But my professors never gave up on me and, with their encouragement, I graduated.”
After running away from home, Janaki transformed into a woman with the help of her transgender friends. Because of her identity, she could not find a job despite having a degree. So, she joined a group of transgenders in Kadapa and started begging.
Interestingly, it was a chance encounter with a district collector who didn't know the ground reality that got Janaki her job according to Mumbai Mirror. In her words,
We (transgender persons) all were actually called by the district collector for issue of Aadhaar and voter ID cards. While addressing us, the collector asked us why we were not educated. I told him that I am a graduate in Computer Science and also hold B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education). He was surprised and asked me to apply for a job. I did. Thus, I got this job
Thereby, she became the first transperson to get job under the scheme launched by Chandrababu government, a scheme that plans on providing equal job opportunities to transpeople.
Janaki is happy at her job and glad that she gets to see her mother at times, albeit secretly. However, it is a long way before her entire family accepts her.
Janaki already has a BEd along with her Bachelor's and her dream is to finish post-graduation in Computer Science and become a teacher.
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