From Raunchy Dancers To Managing Operation Theatre, These Trans Women Paint History

On March 15, 2018, an operation theatre in Bengal witnessed a miraculous event, which has become a revolution in itself. Two transgender women stepped inside the OT and became Bengal’s first OT technicians to assist the doctor during the operation. As unbelievable as it may sound, this is the true story of 24-year-olds Jiya Das and Debdatta Biswas, both of whom have broken many stereotypes, myths and proven that if there is determination, courage and knowledge, the society will have to accept you as you are and all kinds of discrimination will take a back seat.

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An inspiring journey from a bar dancer to a nurse 

Jiya, who is a graduate from Madala, had to work as a raunchy dancer in order to support her family’s financial needs. Her father underwent a heart surgery and that put her family in a financial crisis. She had to explore the interiors of Bihar with a dance troupe as a part of her work and listen to extremely cruel comments and verbal abuses. She says that doing this was not a matter of choice, it put her in an extremely vulnerable position. Debdatta also had a similar situation in her family. She had to give private tuitions to support her family.

Little did the two know that their life was going to take a much-needed turn. At event conducted at the American Center, Kolkata, showed support raised for transgender rights and the idea of engaging transgenders into various courses according to their qualifications was proposed. Dr. Satadal Saha, founder of Skills and Allied Health Science (SSAHS) offered to train transwomen for free only to initiate this much needed activity.

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Aiming for the top once given the opportunity 

The 2 women joined the batch of 48 students for the course at SSAHS’s Pansukura unit. It was a one-of-its-kind initiative and has inspired other similar organisations to also become more inclusive and contribute to the society. Jiya and Debdatta performed well in their mid-term exams and were chosen for a six-month internship to gain hands-on experience. Dr. Saha was impressed by the duo’s performance. He said that they both were focused right from the start and they will become very competent, compassionate and caring health workers. The programme will also be open for more transgender students later.

The internship began at Care and Cure Nursing Home in Barasat. Dr. Tapan Jyoti Banerjee, the Chief Surgeon at the hospital also appreciated their work. It is very motivating when industry experts acknowledge and appreciate a beginner’s work. Other organizations working on gender issues have also got a boost through this event.

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“Transgendered people are discriminated against, despite the law and their qualifications. It was Koushik Hore, a queer rights activist, who came up with a programme called Sathrangi and scouted these two candidates for training. We are hopeful that more transgender youth will now feel confident about adopting such careers,” said Bappaditya Mukherjee, director of Prantakatha, an organization that works on gender issues, in a conversation with TOI.

Jiya Das and Debdatta Biswas are set to achieve more success in life and also earn decent stipends with their work.

“I was filled with excitement stepping into the OT for the first time to assist the doctors. All went well, and I am sure the next six months will give me a lot of exposure and make me a competent OT technician,” said Debdatta Biswas, according to TOI.

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