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Transgender turns RJ, works for community upliftment
ANJANA PRADHAN  17th Jul 2011

Priyanka, who was born as Raju, went to Mumbai for sex-change operation

he transgender community is rarely represented in a positive light in India. Now, a 26-year-old transgender from Bangalore, Priyanka R, has taken it upon herself to set it right. A radio jockey at 90.4 Radio Active, a community radio station initiated by the Jain Group of Institutions, Priyanka hosts Yaaru Ivaru (who is this person?), a popular programme which is aired every Thursday between 12.30 and 1pm.

"I love my work. My job as an RJ has helped me gain a lot of confidence. Through the programme, I make an effort to create awareness about the issues and problems faced by our community," Priyanka told Guardian20. The show discusses the problems faced by the transsexuals in areas such as housing, education and occupation, and in the process, imparts important life lessons. Priyanka not only wants to be a role model for her community, but also wants to work for its upliftment. She says, "A lot of our people either work as sex workers or beg. But I want to show them that there are other jobs where people can accommodate us." However, she maintains that it isn't as easy as it sounds. But she argues, "There's no harm in looking for new opportunities."

Soon, she will be hosting a new radio show called Nava Jiwana. It will focus on the lives of the transsexuals who have come out of the closet and has taken a path less travelled. Priyanka, who also holds workshops for aspiring radio jockeys, owes it all to two community based organisations Samara and Sangama. During her association with these organisations, she got interested in hosting radio programmes. "When Radio Active was making programmes in association with Samara and Sangama, the manager informed us that the FM radio station was looking for people to host their shows. But no one was interested to take it up, so I grabbed the opportunity," she recalls. She joined Radio Active last year and earns a salary of Rs 9,000 per month. She takes care of her parents and younger sister.

But the journey wasn't easy for Priyanka who was born as Raju. She was mocked and teased by friends in school for her feminine behavior. This prompted her to dropout in Class VIII. In 2000, without her parents' approval, she went to Mumbai for a sex-change operation. Her life has changed drastically ever since.

A few years ago, Priyanka got married to Krishna who lives with his wife and child in Mysore. "Krishna was interested in me before his marriage, but I told him that life won't be easy if he marries me. So I requested him to marry a woman. Krishna now spends two to three days a week with me. Even his wife and family know about our relationship," she adds in a matter of fact tone.

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