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A 22-year-old trans journalist tells us why many like her are forced to beg or dance for a living

Sep 9, 2019, 10:14 IST

  • Heidi Saadiya, a 22-year-old trans woman, won our hearts when she reported a news story on Chandrayaan-2 live on television on August 31.
  • Saadiya hails from Kerala in India, discovered that she is a trans woman in her early teenage years.
  • Her family abandoned her as soon as they got to know. She even tried explaining herself to her family but had to leave home at the age of 18 when they didn't accept her.
Heidi Saadiya, a 22-year-old trans woman, won our hearts when she reported a news story on Chandrayaan-2 live on television on August 31.
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A news report by a trans woman is an uncommon sight in India.

From leaving home to a struggle at college

Saadiya who hails from Kerala in India, discovered that she is a trans woman in her early teen years. Her family abandoned her as soon as they knew the truth. She tried explaining herself to her family, but had to leave home at the age of 18.

"They thought I would bring them a bad reputation," Heidi told Business Insider India.

Yet, they could not break her spirit. She completed her education and also enrolled herself in a physiotherapy course in Mangalore. Yet, there was so much discrimination that she had to quit the course and move to Bangalore.

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She joined Kairali TV, a local channel in Thiruvananthapuram, as an intern. "Everyone here treats me as a family, and there's no discrimination."


"I joined Kairali for an internship. My manager soon saw improvements and hired me. I feel like I'm part of a family here"

She was rejected twice before joining the TV channel.

Difficult to earn

Heidi found it very difficult to earn a livelihood. Without a home and family, she had to beg or dance at wedding ceremonies.

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A determined Heidi finished her graduation through a distant learning course. She went to pursue a journalism post-graduation diploma course Thiruvananthapuram.

Unemployment: a big problem
Unemployment is the major problem faced by trans community in India." We should also have our liberty," said Heidi.

Today, two million trans people living in India are living in poverty. Societal exclusion and unemployment forced them to resort to begging, bar dancing, and even prostitution where they are sexually abused. Just like Heidi, most of them are still struggling for basic human rights, and a chance to live with the dignity they deserve.

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