From school dropout to India’s first transgender judge: meet Joyita Mondal

Born in a traditional Hindu household in West Bengal, Joyita Mondal suffered a lot of discrimination owing to h being a trans person. She had to drop out of school, sleep at a bus stand, and beg on the streets. It no longer bothers her though, because all of it has contributed to who she is today — India’s first transgender judge.
Recalling that period, in an interview she said, “I didn’t tell my family that I was unable to take the verbal bullying by other boys in my school. I just told my mother I had got a job in Dinajpur, a neighboring district in the state, and wanted to go there. I told her that I would come back in two months if things didn’t work out, and she consented.”

However, Joyita came to Islampur in Uttar Dinajpur district and never went back. In the initial years, apart from attending functions as a hijra, she also worked for the rights of trans people. Over time, she started working for the rights of anyone and everyone facing any kind of social discrimination and also built her own organization ‘Dinajpur Notun Alo’ (Dinajpur new light) which till date has worked with 2,200 trans-genders in the region.

In July, the 29-year-old was appointed India’s first transgender judge of a Lok Adalat in Bengal. On her first day, she heard a few cases of recovery of bank loans where she ruled for negotiations to resolve the issue.

Joyita Mondal told that she would like to work toward more transgender people being employed in government and private sectors in regular jobs.

“All governments want to appoint one person from a weaker community to a top post so that voices of others of the community are muffled,” she said. “I would not let that happen.”

She also added up by saying, “Even if two to three percent of transgender in Islampur get dignified jobs, I would consider my appointment as beneficial for my community. They would not have to work as sex workers for Rs 150-200 and can have a good sleep at night. Even as I move around in air-conditioned cars now, my people beg by day and work as sex workers at night.”

Lok Adalat (the People’s Court) is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms in India. It is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at the pre-litigation stage are settled amicably.

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