How do you think that the SC Ruling in Sep 2018 has impacted the Transgender community?
It’s been an extremely empowering experience to realize my dreams of so many years. And, to be honest, there has not been much change in my life since the SC ruling. I think that has a lot to do with ThoughtWorks where I will be completing 5 years of work in June 2019. The company has been ahead of the curve when it came to recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion since its inception. Our leadership has made it a business goal to ensure that we represent the society we live in – in all its diverse beauty. Our policies and business conduct all champion the importance of including people from all walks of life.
Can you elaborate on some specific changes you have experienced in the society?
For the extended trans people community in the country, I believe the positive change will materialize faster for the educated folks. Because of access to education, knowledge and awareness, the educated amongst us will be able to speak about the ruling and share their stories. Their families might also be reasoned with.
And, from this scenario, I believe we are still taking baby steps, but what about the rest of us. The people who don’t have access to modern and progressive shows, books, videos and digital content? How do we spread the awareness amongst our groups of friends and family, without prejudice?
What more changes would you like to see?
The change I am looking for is in terms of access and reservation when it comes to education for trans people, we should also have access and knowledge of different kinds of jobs in all sectors (not just the corporate sector). There are a lot of school dropouts from within the trans-community and measures to reduce or discourage that should be brought into play. The government should progress from the current stance of recognizing our existence to embracing same sex and transgender marriages.
I want to be treated as an equal. I want everyone to live and let live.
Do you think that awareness levels within organizations has also undergone a shift?
Yes, they definitely have. Most progressive companies are investing in sensitization sessions, awareness programs, and being more inclusive.
I am also being invited to give talks and share my experience and journey with large groups of interest folks at other companies.
What barriers continue to exist in the corporate sector, when it comes to the inclusion of the Transgender members?
Education, and the lack of it becomes a barrier when it comes to the kinds of roles trans people can access. Language is a huge barrier for people from the lower economic groups or smaller cities, towns and villages.
However, it’s not all bad, because there is a growing presence and acceptance of transgender folks in the creative and art sector. This is truly heartening! And, slowly trans people are taking their place in society – taking on the world of entrepreneurship.
What specific steps would you suggest for a corporate organization just beginning their journey of inclusion of transgender members?
The steps to be taken should include grassroot level to top level sensitization agenda. This should be consistent and regular and could include multiple formats like workshops, screenings, pride month celebrations (usually in the month of June, every year) and sustainable interactions and collaborations with the trans-community
Incidentally, with more awareness and bonds forming with the trans-community, the role of allies is so important in this day and age.
What additional support should be provided to trans persons in order to succeed at work?
Corporates might have an intention to hire, but it cannot stay an intention for long. There are a lot of us who want a better quality of life for ourselves. We need the chance to work on our goals and interests and passion. We need the support from corporates to help our skill set become relevant to what we want to achieve. We need corporates to establish progressive and inclusive policies that keep getting refreshed as awareness and experience grows. Corporates also need to ensure there is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the safety of their trans-employees.