Story of a Transgender: Overcoming Social Dogmas
“I learned that hatred is a disease that can only be cured by the one who is suffering from it. Since coming out a few years ago, I lost my neighbors and broke off so many friendships because of hatred," said Sujon Das, a 23-year-old transgender who is a tailor by profession.
Sujon Das is a 23-year-old villager who lives at Burulia, in the thana of Ghior, Manikganj district. She had seven members in her family. Soon after the birth of Sujon, everyone thought that she was a boy but a few years later when she was growing up her family members noticed that her behavior as a boy, was changing gradually towards a girl. No one accepted her physical change positively except her mother. But her fate was sealed with misery and struggle when her beloved mother passed away and her father Jiten Chandra Das didn’t hesitate to get married again. Her elder brother went to Dhaka for working as a carpenter and her two sisters got married and left the house. So, there was no one who could take care of her and her younger brother.
“In school, I was always mocked and bullied by my classmates, some even used ugly words to address me. As a child, I would always make friends with the girls and never played with the boys. My father yelled about it a lot at home. But I never changed. He always told me that I would bring shame to the family name someday,” she explained with an aching heart.
Sujon had to leave school due to the pressure of domestic work like cooking, washing clothes, caring for cattle and many more. Her stepmother wasn’t supportive at all. In 2008 ADRA Bangladesh started sewing training for the selected participants and Sujon also joined the training. After completing the training, she was looking for a job so that she could survive. In the year 2009, she got a chance to join a local organization named Buro of Human Friendship (BHF) as a trainer. She started to earn 9,000 taka per month. In the meantime, she got another opportunity in Red Crescent for another two batches to train and her income was increasing from 9,000 taka to 13,000 taka. She became quite popular among the local NGOs. ADRA Bangladesh also hired her to train one batch for a short course.
In the year of 2010, she admitted herself into the Ghior Vocational Education School in nine standards. But her family and society became the biggest obstacle in her life. They couldn’t allow her to go to school as she is a transgender. Her family started to torture her. At that moment, a group of Hijra (transgender) came to their house and took Sujon with them. Then she joined that group. She started begging money from bus passengers, shop owners at markets and people in the streets.
But she didn’t like that lifestyle at all. Therefore, she came back to her grandfather’s home, her grandfather had started to take care of her and her younger brother Shawpon Das. A few days later, her grandfather had died. Then, they built a small hut in their uncle’s (mother’s brother) land where she started to implement her tailoring skill. Drop out girls from her village and the girls of neighboring villages started to get the training from her. Gradually, Sujon made herself capable to earn 45,000 taka per year. She was helping her younger brother to continue his education. She bought a sewing machine and using it to make women’s clothes.
Her dream is to educate her brother who is studying in Degree College in the department of Arts nearby her village. Her future plan is to get a permanent job so that she can be a model for society and can live a better life. Besides this, she wants to serve those who are suffering like her. Now, Sujon is very grateful to ADRA Bangladesh. By the help of sewing training from ADRA Bangladesh, she is now able to earn money by making dresses.
If the right opportunity is given to transgender they might even turn out to be better than any other person performing the same job, but it is sad that they are often not included. Sujon is a perfect example of this.