Sonal Pradhaan transwoman
© Sonal Pradhaan/Love Matters India

I have a gender-neutral bathroom in my office!

When Sonal, a transwoman, shifted to Bangalore and joined a new company, little did she know that her HR would not only help her find a home to stay in but also make sure she has a gender neutral bathroom to use. She bagged a job at the LGBTQ sensitive workplace through the RISE job fair and shares her story with Love Matters.

Sonal Pradhan, from Bhuwaneshwar is a trans woman. She works at 247. 

No one understood me 

I was born as Sooraj. Since childhood, I was fond of dressing up and looking like girls. As a kid, no one objected to my feminine dressing style and dismissed it as a childish act but as I grew up,  everyone objected to almost everything I did or wore. 

I must have been 15 when I realized that I was not like the rest of the boys. I neither loved the boys' attire nor behaved like them. 

My parents never understood how I felt as the concept of transgender and LGBT was very new and complicated for them. They initially felt that I had some mental illness which will get cured with time and even gave me medicines. 

As time went by and I did not change, they began to realize the seriousness of my words. 

Job hunting 

They told me if I changed my gender, they would not live with me. I went into depression after this and could not complete my studies on time. After many obstacles, I completed my graduation in 2015, which should have happened in 2010. 

It was difficult to find a job in Odisha as during every interview, people were more interested in finding out about my identity than my skills. No company wanted to hire a transwoman.

Even if some companies agreed to give me a job, the salary was so low that even a daily laborer earned more than it! Sometimes I rejected the job when I felt the staff looked at me with fear and speculation. I also had to leave one job because I was not given any accommodation. 

It was then I decided to do a course in plastic engineering and learn about plastic processing. After completing six months of training, I was hired to train others. It was the first place where nobody had any objection to my identity. 

Times of change

After working for about a year and eight months in that training institute, I decided to come to Bangalore and explore the job market. I have always wanted to live and work in a big city outside Bhubaneswar where there is no discrimination and I can also get equal rights just live everyone else. 

Through my circle of friends, I came to know that Pride Circle was organizing RISE – India's first and largest LGBTI Job Fair in Bengaluru. When I went to the job fair, I had no idea that it would completely change my life. The event was no less than a miracle for me. I got several job offers there and decided to join one company. 

It has been five months now since I joined my new workplace. I was facing difficulties finding a place to stay in Bangalore, but on the recommendation of HR of my company, I also found a good paying-guest accomodation. 

The company has also made a lot of changes after I joined them – for eg: getting a gender neutral bathroom for me! 

Today my parents are happy to see me standing on my own feet and working in a city like Bangalore. Today when I go home, they welcome me with love and respect!

Pride Circle is coming to Delhi with the second chapter of RISE. RISE is India's first and largest job fair for the LGBT community, in which people of all classes and castes can come without any entry fee. If you are from the LGBT community or know someone who belongs to this community, then tell them about the job fair!

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