Kolkata, July 18 (IANS) Joyita Mondal Mahi has been active as a social worker in West Bengal for over a decade. The 29-year-old is now serving as the state’s first transgender judge of a National Lok Adalat, but says her selection is a testament of her portfolio and has nothing to do with her gender.
“It was my performance that got noticed by the district administration. My work is my identity,” Mahi told IANS from North Dinajpur district’s Islampur.
Currently handling loan recoveries, she says at the outset her social work profile in Islampur revolved around the LGBT community.
“After I started working, I felt the need to work for the entire community and not just one specific group of people,” she said.
Mahi, who hails from Kolkata, recollects how she could not finish her studies due to gender identity issues and the discrimination she faced when she first turned up in Islampur in 2010.
“I could not get a hotel to stay in… ,” she recalled.
But she carried on with her social work — helping set up old-age homes for HIV positive people, forming her own organisation, and acting as a bridge between the people and the administration.
“Despite people’s attitude towards me, I never projected that I could be different in any way. I was one among them. This helped me in reaching out to the needy,” she said.
In her latest position, Mahi sees no difference in the work.
“Its the same… I see the judgeship as social work. The only difference is earlier I used to reach out to people and now they come to me,” she quipped.