To make both ends meet, 31-year-old Vidya Kamble from Nagpur would dance and clap in functions held to celebrate marriages and birth of children.
But a phone call on the night of January 29 changed her life. The caller was Nagpur District Legal Aid Services secretary Kunal Jadhav, who informed Vidya that she had been appointed as a panel member of the Lok Adalat in Nagpur.
“It was a huge, unexpected and the surprise of a lifetime for me. I did not even dream of it,” Vidya told The Hindu.
Her appointment was all the more important for her because it came after 13 years of struggle.
“I left my family at the age of 18 when I realised I was a transgender. I did not want to trouble or embarrass my family members. They were clearly not comfortable with my identity and would often hide the fact from others,” she said.
For a year after leaving her family, she worked in a restaurant as a help. She then met Anand Chandrani of the Sarathi Trust, who is a prominent LGBT activist and a social worker from Nagpur.
“He took me to his office and counselled me. He told me that being a transgender was not my fault, after which I became a part of the transgender community. I also began to understand my body. I decided to devote my life for the betterment of the community,” said Vidya.
She started attending to the problems of the transgender people as a social worker.
She did not stand at traffic signals or streets asking for money, but she had to dance and clap at functions to earn a living.
When asked how she felt working along with judges and lawyers, Vidya said , “I was a little uncomfortable. But they made me feel extremely comfortable. Today was the 10th day of my joining work and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Vidya, however, claims that the news of her appointment to the Lok Adalat was not well-received by some of her own community members.
“The transgender community should take my achievement as an achievement of the entire community. As a community we need to think out of box now and start choosing our own paths. We need to unite and progress. If I can achieve it then other transgender people can also make an attempt,” she said.