A Lok Adalat, to which Mondal was appointed on July 8, 2017, is deemed a civil court under Section 25 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 and, its proceedings are deemed judicial. Mondal is placed in the category of ‘learned judges’, by the office of the sub-divisional legal services committee of Islampur, Uttar Dinajpur district in West Bengal.
Her feat is really incredible considering discrimination and ignorance still threaten the survival and livelihoods of the community, despite a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in favor of a ‘third gender,’ recognizing and granting them political and economic rights. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which seeks to prohibit discrimination against them in education, employment, and healthcare, is still hanging in the balance.
Amendments have been suggested following objections on various clauses in the Bill by the community and activists. Whether or not these are accepted will be known when the Bill comes up for discussion hopefully in the winter session of Parliament in December.
India’s population includes approximately five million transgender people according to the 2011 national census. While this mapping, conducted for the first time in the country for this community, was viewed as recognition of the third gender, LGBT activists assert that fear of harassment and stigma prevented many from revealing their gender identity, since they did not conform to the norms traditionally associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
For Mondal, too, the journey hasn’t been easy. Born biologically male to a traditional Hindu family in Kolkata, West Bengal, Joyita faced discrimination, opposition and even rejection when she decided she could no longer live her life as a man. She only recently began the sex reassignment surgery to become a woman in July 2017, eight years after she first came out. “I loved dressing like a girl and playing with dolls. But I was a boy and boys don’t do this, especially when they are 10-years-old. As I grew older, I would dress as a girl when I went outside the house and change before I returned,” Mondal revealed.
But this secret life was not what she wanted. When one special school friend in the all-boys school she attended shifted out of Kolkata after grade 10, she decided to drop out of school in 2009. “I didn’t tell my family that I was unable to take the verbal bullying by other boys in my school. I just told my mother I had gotten a job in Dinajpur, a neighboring district in the state, and wanted to go there. I told her that I would come back in two months if things didn’t work out, and she consented,” she said.
But Mondal never went back. Here, she began dressing like a woman openly. Still, even while practicing her profession as a hijra (ennuch) and attending weddings or visiting the house of a newborn child offering services like singing and dancing to ward-off bad luck, she had started working for the welfare of the transgender community.
Realizing that she needed to know more about government programs in order to raise awareness outside the community, Modal resumed her studies through distance correspondence education, completing a law course as well. In 2010, a year after the national Election Commission added the category of ‘other’ in addition to male and female as gender identification to encourage transgenders to register for voter cards, Mondal became the first transgender in Dinajpur to get a voter card under this category. She also founded her own organization –Dinajpur Notun Alo Society– to reach out to other marginalized communities like sex workers, beggars and victims of trafficking.
In 2011, however, Mondal realized more had to be done to change mindsets about the transgender community after she had to spend a traumatic night at a bus stand after being turned away by all hotels because of her gender identity. “I started counseling sessions in hopes of reducing stigma by inviting relatives and family members of transgender persons. We showed films on the problems faced by the community. Further, sensitization of teachers and students in government and private schools and colleges started, and street plays at bus stands and other popular spaces were performed,” Mondal says.
Today, she views her appointment as a judge a huge step for the trans community, as well as a huge opportunity to reiterate that they are equal citizens of the country, and therefore deserve the same respect, dignity and acceptance as anyone else.
October 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm
The transgender should be congratulated for being appointed as a judge. This will give hope for others too!
October 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm
This is great….there are a few good humam souls out there to accept this community. Congrats and lets all take a moment to understand that they are human too . It could happen to anyone of us at any time im our lives.
October 12, 2017 at 8:06 pm
Laud your efforts ,may your position help this vulnerable group of society and empower them!
October 13, 2017 at 1:02 pm
really hats of you Joyita Mondal best of luck may god bless you & your struggle will defintily will bring a big change in community
October 14, 2017 at 1:13 am
God bless you jyoita mondal
October 14, 2017 at 12:55 pm
Congratulations…That’s Wonderful.. even I use to wonder.. that body may have some kind of wiring problems but mind should be sound.. so why not put it to maximum use…
But one thing.. I am still wondering… What is the need of dressing up so gauddy with so much makeup and jewellery..?
October 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm
Congratulations!!!! Not just for breaking the gender stereotypes but breaking the so called fate which you must have god’s knows how many million times questioned yourself “why me”…… We can nowhere even think of reaching the very thought of pain you must have undergone by so called normal people. By warding off and standing tall you have in fact become a beacon of hope for millions of “Joyita Mondal” who still live in the dark. May we hear more stories of such victory from many third genders….. May each eyes, not look at third gender with curiosity and scare….May they just be accepted widely….I will from my part start by being a little more accepting, I m sure we all have that little more space if we decide to.
October 15, 2017 at 9:39 pm
All Indians proud of your struggle . Congratulations M
October 16, 2017 at 11:46 am
Congrats to u joyita
January 17, 2018 at 1:27 pm
god bless you joiyta mondal….ek nyii prenna aapse milegi sb ko…gud work