Over the past week, 26-year-old Kaveri has been busy running office errands, submitting office documents to the High Court and tying up other loose ends at the office of B. Jayashree, theatre actor and Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka.
A transsexual woman, Ms. Kaveri is the first transgender to be appointed as a government employee in Karnataka. Earlier this year, the Karnataka High Court had created history by appointing a 27-year-old transgender, C. Anu, as a Group D employee at the High Court.
On July 1, Kaveri was appointed as a Group D employee in B. Jayashree’s office. Having worked with a Bangalore-based NGO, Samara, for over two years, she was chosen by Ms. Jayashree to give an opportunity to a member from the sexual minorities. Ms. Jayashree said that with this appointment she wished to set right a wrong that society had done to thousands like Ms. Kaveri, who have either been abandoned by their parents or treated unequally, even cruelly, by society.
Ms. Kaveri said that she was “extremely happy to be given such an opportunity”. “People like me are generally not even given access to these institutions. Which is why, I think that it is significant that for the first time, madam (Ms. Jayashree) gave me the opportunity to represent my community,” she said, adding that she hoped that this would be a new beginning. She hopes that with this more leaders, particularly political leaders from the State, will follow suit.
Ms. Kaveri belongs to an agricultural family in Brahmavara, Udupi district. Brought up by her parents as a boy, known by the name Stany D’souza, she dropped out of school in 10th standard and ran away from home. She says she had no option but to leave as her family was unwilling to accept her as a woman. She went to Mysore first with a group of Hijras and then landed in Bangalore. Since then she has been working as a field worker with sexual and sexuality minority groups.
When asked what getting a government job meant to her, she emphatically says: “Everything.” She explains: “If many more government jobs open up for us it will pave the way to better and more equal treatment for me and others like me. We will be respected and treated at par with others. It’s important.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Jayashree said: “Back in my theatre days, I always empathised with sexual and sexuality minority groups. Ill-treated and abandoned by society, I knew that I wanted to help them in some way. People just sit and watch this injustice, and then even point fingers when they turn to begging,” she said. Ms. Jayashree hopes that this will be a start and more such opportunities will open for transgenders.
Sexual minority groups have for long been demanding reservation in government jobs. Recently, rights groups met with the Chief Minister seeking one per cent reservation for transgenders in all government departments.