Last week, I was travelling to Bihar to meet my friend due to some mishappening in his family. I met him after a long gap. While returning, I booked a government run bus from Nawada district to Patna city.
Fortunately, I managed to get a window seat. I was enjoying my travel along with the soothing breeze and monsoon drizzles coming in from the broken window. The bus was packed beyond its capacity with people hanging out, as well as sitting atop the bus. Women were standing and few men parted off their seats to make the women comfortable, I could only make place for an old lady. A lady asked the conductor for help, but he shrugged off his responsibility. I started looking for instructions “Ladies seat/Reserved for women” etc. on the panel of the bus.
Suddenly a message grabbed my attention. In the small space between two windows I found an instruction “Reserved for Transgender”. My eyes stuck on those words and I was amazed for a while, with an inquisitive question in my mind, “is that for real?”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this topic, and I was truly touched. My organization strives for the rights and health of trangenders and to achieve this noble goal, we have partnered with committed organizations and communities to support sustained responses and here is one of the results in front of my eyes. It reflects the impact of the relentless efforts from our community leaders and frontline workers that have reached remote and largely unknown areas.
It gives me immense pleasure to share this incident. I am proud to be associated with my organisation and witnessing the progress rejuvenated my commitment towards my job. This is not just an instance of an instruction written on the unclean panel of a long distance bus, but it brings along a strong message to the country and the people. It is a classic example of acceptance of the fact that the ‘Third Gender’ exist and they have equal respect and rights as every one of us. Our stand for equality, equity and rights is showing flying colours. Against all odds, Bihar state in its most interior towns and districts have accepted this fact and is urging its people to give transgender their share of human rights.
I sign off with curiosities along with an optimistic perspective, looking out of the window wondering when are the others going to do it?
The author of this blog is Pankaj Sharma, Administrative Officer at India HIV/AIDS Alliance at New Delhi.
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