Published: 29th June 2018
Meet transgender Divya Krishnan, who cleared TET but hasn't been given a job for over 2 years
The 34-year-old transwoman from Salem has been fighting against the system for ages for a dream she has cherished since she was 9 - to become a teacher
When Divya Krishnan was in the fourth standard, she had a teacher who travelled all the way from Namakkal to her school in Salem to teach them. She loved this teacher to bits, she doesn't remember the teacher's name but remembers that she taught them science very well. The one other memory that Divya has that went on to shape her life in many ways, is of her teacher telling her mother that she should get Divya to become a teacher.
"The teacher was getting transferred to another school and I was in tears. That was when the teacher met my mother and told her this. Since then I have not met her and since I don't remember her name I haven't been able to track her. But that's when I knew that I was going to become a teacher," recalled Divya. Becoming a teacher is not an uphill task. In fact, it's probably one of the easiest professions to pursue. Right? No, wrong. Not if you're a transgender.
When Divya was in the ninth standard, she realised she was trapped in the wrong body. "I was always inclined towards feminine things all my life but it was only in the ninth standard that I realised that I wanted to transition. Things became very difficult for me after that, the others around me like my classmates started to notice that I was different and they started bullying me. Name calling and teasing became routine. But when I joined the 11th standard, people were more respectful and going to school became easier," Divya said.
It was while she was in the 12th standard that Divya met a transgender for the first time, "I was on my way from school one day when I saw Mary on the road selling paniyaram, I immediately had the urge to meet her, so I went and spoke to her and soon we became great friends. She helped me meet other transgenders as well. That's when I started to learn about myself and started getting the support that I had always longed for," she said. Unfortunately, Mary committed suicide shortly after they met after being cheated by a man who had promised her marriage.
"The results show that I've passed but when the list for the posting comes out, my name is never there. I've run from one government office to another trying to ask why but one person will blame the other and vice versa,In all, there will barely be 5-6 transgenders in the State who would want to become teachers, is it really that difficult to give posting for just 5-6 people?" Divya asks.
"It was hard for me to take it but then thankfully she had left me in the company of some beautiful friends who helped me get through the loss," she said. It was shortly after that she completed her 12th standard and began to consider getting surgery to transition. But she hadn't yet worked up the courage to speak to her parents about it. "I started helping out my parents with their farming work for a while but I started to crave going to college so I finally asked them. They threw me out of the house questioning my aspirations to study when I chose to behave like a "woman," she explained.
So, Divya came out of her house and the closet. She managed to get in touch with NGO's that worked with the upliftment of transgenders and finally she managed to do her teachers' training programme. After that, she went on to do her UG and PG, both in Tamil literature, a subject she had always excelled in, "All the funding that I've ever needed people have volunteered to give me. From people within Tamil Nadu to people all the way in London have helped me out with my fees. In fact, I was one of the first transgenders in the country to do my teachers' training programme." During this time, her family also came looking for her and brought her back into their home.
Divya passed all her teacher's training exams with flying colours but has been waiting for her posting for the last two years. "The results show that I've passed but when the list for the posting comes out, my name is never there. I've run from one government office to another trying to ask why but one person will blame the other and vice versa," she said. "In all, there will barely be 5-6 transgenders in the State who would want to become teachers, is it really that difficult to give posting for just 5-6 people?" she asks.
Since she has to have some kind of livelihood to support herself, Divya workes as a saree weaver currently. So has she given up? Will she end up continuing in the weaving business or choose another profession since she is already so highly qualified? "No, no. I'm meant to be a teacher and I will be one someday, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. I'm waiting for some laws to change or at least for them to be implemented correctly. But the classroom is where I belong and I'll fight to be in it for as long as I can," she said with a smile.