INDIA: One of the most influential LGBTQ activists in India, transgender activist Vidya Rajput continues to work hard to establish inclusion across the country. Her contribution has led to a remarkable transformation in India as diversity is a requirement for the success of both the individual and the country.
The LGBTQ community in India
LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. While it is a well-known fact that people with different sensitivities are almost always talented in something that can greatly contribute to local success, gender identity in India is arguably a more important reason for discrimination than the caste system.
Non-binary and gender-fluid subgroups include the hijras (kinnars), jogappas, jogtas, shiv-shaktis, Aradhis, Sakhi, and others. From business to the arts through the performance of police duty, Rajput’s passion and efforts to lead people to a more productive and healthier path are the fruit of her determination not to allow social pressure to decide their fate.
For Rajput, people are more important than labels as all people have to have the opportunity to contribute to the development and growth of society.
About Vidya Rajput
At the beginning of her life, the Rajput was forced to endure decades of physical and mental abuse due to her gender identity. However, difficulties and transphobia did not deter Vidya’s spirit as she knew by heart what was right for her: gender identity is not something one acquires, but something one gradually awakens to.
With time Vidya Rajput became more aware that other transgender people did not face difficulties in the same way she did and some even ended up committing suicide. Thus, she began working to improve inclusion for trans people and still works hard to help transgender achieve equal opportunities and respect in society.
The difference Vidya Rajput makes
Leading the Mitwa organization since 2009, her team is primarily concerned with the welfare of transgender people in India. Along with this, she is also an active member of the “Third Gender Welfare Board” in Chhattisgarh. Rajput is currently working as a trainer for the administration and police academy in Raipur and has also actively partnered with the Chhattisgarh police department to allow employment opportunities for transgender people.
Last year, Rajput collaborated with the Indian Sports Ministry to include transgender youth in the prestigious Khelo India Games. Through her humanitarian work, Rajput together with government officials in Chhattisgarh donated 190 apartments to trans people at risk of social exclusion in Raipur. Previously, she had also persuaded officials to include sections on the LGBT community in school textbooks.
LGBTQ activists in the fight for equality
Discrimination against transgender people is a global issue. Like Rajputs, various transgender activists around the world are fighting hard for their communities, and by extension, for the global community.
Vidya Rajput urged everyone to be aware of gender diversity and gender expression: “More and more people need to learn about the trans community. I know that people are not willing to accept us because they do not have enough knowledge about our community. We have the right to live like everyone else. I want people to accept this and accept us as their own.”
She added that self-love is at the core of one’s own survival and will to live, and that without self-love others can abuse as the person who is being discriminated against won’t know and won’t be willing to stand up for themselves.
She added, “Self-love is important. I want everyone in my community to love and accept themselves. Although there has been a sense of conscience among the people, the society still does not have much knowledge about our community.”
On a positive note, there has been a growing movement for the LGBTQ + community in India. However, many transgender people still feel that there is much more to do in the fight for equality. Awareness is where activists play a central role.
LGBTQ constitutes a marginalized sector of Indian society. Faced with severe social and financial discrimination, harassment, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and violence, denial of services or access to institutions, the workplace, medical care, etc., surviving as non-binary is not guaranteed and many people prefer to keep it a secret.
Keeping things to oneself leads to mental problems, and this is where gender activists come to help as better than the psychiatrist who serves the individual, they are trying to fix a dysfunctional part of society.