- Childhood and Early Life
- Struggles faced
- The path forward
- A Final Note
Punjab is known for its army, popular Bollywood songs, warriors, and it’s lip-smacking food. But unfortunately, this state has a long history of the graphic display of masculinity. This culture is followed by patriarchy. Such toxic culture usually results in violence from families.
In this culture, Dhananjay Chauhan, a trans-woman and the first transgender student of the prestigious Panjab University, did not lose hope and challenged all the social inequalities. Dhananjay later fought hard day and night to support the transgender community of Punjab. Even after having a tough childhood, Dhananjay did not lose hope.
Childhood and Early Life:
Being a non-binary transgender person, Dhananjay Chauhan went through a lot of difficulties. As this is a very gendered world, it can be frightening, especially for a child. Dhananjay Chauhan realized her gender at the age of 3. Later on, this realization was growing close to absolute completion.
” Since childhood, I was judged by society and was ignored very much. Some people even tried to “correct” me. When I was admitted to school at the age of 6, I was bewildered about the school washrooms and which one to enter.” said Dhananjay.
Besides this, she was also bullied and harassed by her own family. ” I was bullied by people and even family members. Later on, I was taken to correction therapy and even quacks. As this did not work, the next thing they tried is black magic, and Ojha performed dark magic to take the “evil” out. Hence, to prevent these incidents from happening, I tried to act more masculine by wearing shirts, pants, and even kept a beard.”
Dhananjay Chauhan was the first transgender person to join and complete the whole course at Panjab University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. But it was a hard decade-long struggle for her. The trans community had to endure and go through so much during the admission time. ” In the ’80s, when I took admission in the college, it was very tough to shield my identity. I was repeatedly being identified as a man. But, in 1993, I topped BA honors and went into the History department of Panjab University(1). But, I was ragged heavily and was even subjected to an attempt to rape. So, I quit the university and dropped my education.” says Dhananjay.
In 1994, Dhananjay started pursuing LLB in the Law department of Panjab University. At that time, she had to go to evening classes. The seniors ragged Dhananjay and even pulled her into a room in an attempt to rape her.
However, her long struggle for education was fruitful as she formed an organization that promoted transgender rights. The fight started again in 2002. After being subjected to bullying, attempt to rape, and harassment, the will to make it all right was as strong as ever. ” I started Saksham Trust, which protected the rights of trans-community in the region of Punjab.”
Starting this organization was one of the most successful initiatives. She also contributed to the landmark NALSA judgment. ” In 2012, when the preparation was going on, I represented Punjab and Chandigarh. When the NALSA judgment was delivered in 2014, we were given the identity as “third gender”. This was a massive step for the trans-community as they had the freedom to express their identity.
Soon after the NALSA judgment was given, many educational institutions started giving seats to transgender people. Dhananjay Chauhan tried to encourage other youngsters in the trans-community, but they denied and ignored it as they were alright with the profession of begging, badhai, and sex work. ” If this is what I wanted to do, I could have done it in the ’90s and could have run and lived with the hijras, begging, dancing, and earning money by sex work. But, I never considered taking that path. Since no one from the TG community decided to take action, I stepped forward.”
The Path Forward:
She may have won the battle when the university started taking in people from trans-community, but the survival war is still a long one.
While gaining admission from colleges and universities, she still had to think about attending classes and reacting.
While this was very challenging for her, the university backed her.
” I wrote a letter to the vice-chancellor asking about which bathroom to use, male or female? The vice-chancellor replied within ten days mentioning that a 23 lakh budget has been passed to construct four extra toilets. This happened in 2016.”
Besides this, Dhananjay also made education free for Transgenders in many universities. This motivated many from the trans-community to attend college.
She also formed an anti-discrimination cell within the university.
The reaction of society is critical in ensuring the welfare of the Transgender community. For this reason, every state should have a transgender board.
A Final Note:
Dhananjay Chauhan inspired many people to take hold of their lives and live a successful and proud life. A film, ‘Admitted,’ was also made, which expressed and documented her journey of gaining admission to the Panjab University.
She has become the role-model of many people now.
Dhananjay has given speeches on transgender welfare in many European and Asian countries and has been awarded more than 150 awards.
It is high time to start supporting and encouraging the trans-community. Society should stop seeing people from Trans-community as different creatures and start accepting them.
By doing this, no doubt, the society, and the nation will grow exponentially.