Only months after granting LGBTQ people the right to freedom of sexual orientation expression and three years after recognizing transgender people as a third gender identity, India has reached another landmark and elected its first transgender judge.
Joyita Mondal is the first openly transgender person to be appointed as a judge of a Lok Adalat, or People’s Court. At 29 years old, this achievement is the culmination in her journey from a homeless school dropout to the founder of an organization (‘Dinajpur Notun Alo’) dedicated to helping transgender Indians in her region. The appointment as judge evidently came as a surprise, but Joyita is already executing her new position with pride.
“Even if two to three percent of transgender [people] in Islampur get dignified jobs, I would consider my appointment as beneficial for my community,” said Joyita. Originally from Kolkata, she moved to Islampur in 2010, where she faced discrimination and hostility. She is determined to improve opportunities for transgender people in India, many of whom are forced to beg or become sex workers in order to survive. Joyita’s appointment was allowed on the basis that she is considered a social worker with “established credibility as a judge.” She will continue her work with Dinajpur Notun Alo throughout her appointment. Previous milestones for her organization include the creation of an old-age home for HIV positive people and the formation of patient welfare committees.
This achievement marks a success for Victory Institute and its partner in India, Solidarity Foundation, as it continues to train LGBTIQ leaders to run for public office, secure positions in government, and become advocates in their communities. We at Victory Institute stand with Joyita and other LGBTIQ leaders in India as they push for equal rights and better opportunities, and prevent regressive legislation from being passed.