I’m A Proficient Employee Who Happens To Be A Transwoman, So Why The Discrimination?

The management could no longer feign ignorance. The transformation began. Sensitization sessions were organized. Her manager was held accountable for her behaviour. The atmosphere started shifting from tolerance to acceptance.

As the sun crept into the busy city streets of Mumbai, its rays touched upon a small apartment, lighting up the face of Meera – as vibrant as the dawn itself. She was a butterfly, unfurling her wings to the world, painting a picture of colors and beauty in a landscape often gray and unkind.

Meera, born as ‘Mohan,’ was a transgender woman who walked the labyrinth of a corporate world that often refused to acknowledge her transformation, her metamorphosis. Like a lotus blooming amidst a murky pond, she strove to emerge as her authentic self, facing adversity with grace, and strength unbeknownst to her tormentors.

Her morning ritual was a performance of courage and self-assertion. Getting ready for work, she would stand before her mirror, tracing bold strokes of kajal around her eyes and painting her lips a fierce shade of red. Each dab of foundation, each stroke, a silent declaration of her identity, an invisible armor against the prejudices she faced each day, a war painted against the world that sought to invalidate her existence.

She worked for Infinity Inc. A corporate IT giant where bias lurked beneath the surface of claimed progressiveness. A workplace place that painted a façade of progressiveness. Beneath that façade, prejudice and discrimination simmered. Like a deer cautiously traversing predator-infested woods, Meera was always on guard, mindful of every gaze and comment.

The elevator ride to her floor each day was a silent symphony of discomfort.

“Beautiful weather today, isn’t it, Meera?” one of her colleagues, Ravi, would often attempt small talk, his eyes averted, his nervousness almost palpable. Their awkward silences amplified the unease that clung to her like a second skin.

Meera was a skilled IT professional. Her codes were a symphony, her keyboard a grand piano. But her brilliance was often overlooked, her errors magnified, and her successes dismissed. It felt as if her professional competency was chained to her gender identity.

Meera’s manager, Ananya, was the embodiment of the prejudice that pervaded Infinity Inc.

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“Meera, would you mind rechecking your code? We just want to be extra careful. Normal people’s world is different from yours.” Ananya’s words were couched in professional concerns, but Meera saw through her. Ananya’s veiled comments and casual microaggressions were incessant, each one a pinprick that punctured her professional confidence.

Soon this insult towards Meera became an everyday affair.

One day, during a meeting, Meera suggested, “I think we could solve our online car purchasing problem by…” Before she could finish, Ananya, her manager, cut her off, “That’s an interesting idea, Meera. However, we’re creating an app for the average consumer, not specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. Do you think many in that community have the financial resources and the know-how to buy cars online? It’s impractical.”

Another team member Rajan proposed a very similar solution a week later. Ananya jumped at it, lauding his innovative thinking. Meera felt a bitter sting; her ideas, so easily dismissed, were celebrated when coming from another. It was not about the merit of the ideas, but who voiced them.

Meera was resolute. She spoke up in the meeting, “I’d like to address an ongoing issue.” As all eyes turned to her, she addressed Ananya and the team about unfair treatment. It was a watershed moment, and though her rebellion seemed impactful, it ultimately led to no change.

Just a few days after that incident, Meera overheard her colleagues in the breakroom. “It’s just hard to take Meera seriously, you know?” whispered Priya, her words laced with ignorance. Such comments revealed that her colleagues viewed her more as a spectacle than a fellow professional.

The silent elevator rides, the muffled giggles behind her back, the deliberate exclusion from after-work gatherings—all pointed to a prejudice that was hard to ignore. It was discrimination, not blatant, but veiled and insidious, that silently corroded Meera’s workspace.

One day, during a town hall meeting, Meera took the podium. Her voice, steady, cut through the silence.

“I’m here to do my job, just like every one of you,” she said. “But, when my ideas are dismissed only to be appreciated when echoed by others, it’s not my competence that’s in question but my identity.”

She continued, “When my professional credibility is undermined due to personal biases, it’s discrimination. I stand here as a proficient employee who happens to be a transgender woman, not a transgender woman trying to be an employee.”

The room filled with silence. Her words, powerful and raw, hung in the air. She had spoken her truth, standing tall against the tide of bias.

When Meera’s company announced a new inclusive workplace policy, it gave her hope, but she knew actions spoke louder than words. At the quarterly meeting, she stood before the management and co-workers, her voice steady. “I am an employee of Infinity Inc. first. My work should be the measure of my competence, not my gender identity.”

Meera dared to disturb the surface of the pond, creating ripples that were hard to ignore. The cold, concrete walls of Infinity Inc. started resonating with echoes of her words. The management could no longer feign ignorance. The transformation began. Sensitization sessions were organized. Ananya was held accountable for her behavior. The atmosphere started shifting from tolerance to acceptance.

Months later, during a brainstorming session, Meera suggested an idea. This time, Ananya paused, “That’s an interesting thought, Meera. Can you elaborate?” It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

As the evening sun graced Mumbai with its warm glow, Meera stood by her window. She had weathered the storm, challenged bias, and emerged stronger. Her journey was a testament to her resilience and a beacon of hope for those silenced by discrimination.

The question stands: Are our workplaces truly inclusive? We’re on the journey, but it’s still underway. Yet, with trailblazers like Meera, the dawn of acceptance and equality is not far. When it arrives, it will be as glorious as the spirits who ushered it in.

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About the Author

Sharda Mishra

I am a photographer and an avid reader. I am not a writer but I like to give words to my emotions. I love to cook and hike. I believe in humor and its impact read more...

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