Have you ever imagined a life being a woman in a man’s body? Imagine the internal struggle you would have had and on top of that imagine the rejection from society and your family! We can’t even imagine such life for a minute but Meghana Sahoo lived that life for 24 years before accepting herself. Read her inspirational story how she triumphed against all odds and now inspiring others in her community to make their dream come true.
This story will change your perception towards transgenders.
Watch this 1 minute video to get glimpses of her life journey.
Struggling with gender issues and tolerating heinous criticism has been a lifelong fight for a transgender. On the one hand, acceptance in society including own family is not easy; on the other, the identity crisis within themselves leave them paralyzed with minimal access to studies, jobs, and other facilities to live a dignified life.
Meghana Sahoo rose above all the labels and taboos. She set an example in her community by completing post graduation and earning respectful livelihood than choosing to be a beggar (this is what most of the transgender end up doing in India).
My childhood was difficult, my father was a truck driver and I was the eldest of three brothers. Knowing the poor financial situations at the house, I always tried doing my best in studies but it was too difficult for me in school. Other students in school used to laugh at my physical appearance and gestures, and used to taunts and pass terrible comments. I was so scared to use a restroom in school and college because other students either used to mock me or physically abused me. I lost my childhood because of the taunts and comments from outside world as well as my own family's rejection, and humiliation.
Due to society’s mocking, out of frustration, once my mother took off my pants in our society’s playground just to prove to people that I was a boy, this was the most shocking and embarrassing moment of my life.
Despite bullying by my classmates, I completed my school and continued to pursue my graduation. During that time, I also started a part-time job as a medical lab technician to support my family and my studies.
In college, I had completely pushed myself to behave like a man. I started reacting in an excessively ‘manly’ way to show that I was a male. I used to grow mustache and beard with hard efforts just to prove I was male (someone told me that if I keep shaving, I could grow mustache and beard faster; I used to shave almost daily). I used to be over cautious with the way I would walk and talk so that people acknowledged me as male. I had a heinous harassment in school that I didn't want to repeat in college but there was a constant struggle of being a woman inside a male body.
I completed my post graduation in management and got a job at Diagnostic center but I was chucked away from a job once they realized my gender identity.
At that time, my situation in my family was equally bad. My family abandoned me twice, once when I was a kid because they thought my brother would get influenced out of my transgender personality and second time when I decided to accept my real identity by changing my gender to female. At that point, my family started abusing and threatening me and threw me out of the home when I was determined to change my sex.
In that precarious situation of having no family, no job and no social support, I did not know what should I do next. My friend from transgender community suggested me to go to Delhi in search of job and I did not see any other option but follow the suggestion.
I decided to accept myself first and I underwent surgery to change my gender. I was also treated for hormone therapy, laser treatment, and breast enhancement – Since I was determined, I completed the treatment all alone in the hospital and spent my entire saving on the treatment.
That was a tough time; even though I was a postgraduate, getting a job was difficult due to gender discrimination. I had to dance in bar as a bar girl and at times had to beg to feed myself in Delhi.
Though I was Numb to all abuse of society and the feeling of my family looking down at me,
I always motivated myself by saying, I will not surrender to what others think of me. I am a human being, same as everyone else, and I have all the rights to live my life the way I want.
Then I came back to Odessa and as the last resort, I started as a cab driver at Ola where I earn 30k INR per month to support my livelihood. Ola cab driver is a dignified job as Ola calls us partner than calling a mere driver. It gives me flexibility and independence to work on my own timings and there is no discrimination or scorn taunts by colleagues.
When I started my driving profession with Ola, initially, people were doubtful about transgender driving them. But over period, their trust started growing, many of them appreciated my work.
Initially, people used to get confused by seeing my photo as a woman on app but hearing a voice of a man over phone but now I am being accepted as a driver by a male as well as female clients. Now I encourage my passengers to be more empathetic towards the transgender community.
I hate when People ask me frequently, “When I realized, I am different?” but I politely tell them, I am not different though society perceives me different
To help others, like me, I started working for an NGO called ‘Sakha’ which works towards the engagement of transgender in various sectors through different projects. We work for a project of enabling transgender to start Boutique, tailoring or auto driving than choosing to surrender to society's rejection and beg on roads.
We work to promote sexual minorities, getting them care, respect, love, support, and equality for the transgender community which they deserve. We convince societies and families of transgender to treat them as any other human being.
While I was working for the transgender community, Mr. Basudev Naik, proposed me for marriage. He has a son from his previous marriage and he trusted me over any other women to take care of him. This was one of the happiest moments of my life. Our marriage created history; a transgender got married to a man!
I believe that even if you do not see a light at the end of the tunnel, keep walking with right frame of mind and with right intentions to support others, eventually, things will work out for you in unexpected ways.
Now my dream is to create a modeling group for our community, to give a stage to transgenders and prove that we can walk any stream of life with a full heart.
Awards and Recognition:
This article is supported by
Swapna Nilesh, from Mumbai, India.