These days Bengaluru resident Srilatha P ‘religiously’ gargles with warm salt water for at least two minutes before retiring for the day. It’s a new habit that Srilatha, who identifies herself as a transwoman, has cultivated. Is it because a lot of people are doing that hoping to keep coronavirus at bay? “No, not for that,” the 24-year-old clarifies. “I want to bring clarity to my voice. I am learning to speak English,” she reveals with a sheepish smile.
Srilatha, who runs a tailoring shop from home, says English is her last hope for getting a job in a boutique. “My 13-year-old niece, Geetha, teaches me. I have no shame in learning from a child. It’s my dream to become a fashion designer. By working in a boutique, I will learn the tricks of fashion designing. In a space like a boutique, one has to speak English. That is how it works.”
Along with a job, Srilatha, like thousands of LGBTQIA+ people in Karnataka, wants “respect and dignity in life”. “English is a ticket to a better life,” Srilatha feels.
While discrimination and harassment follow different aspects of the lives of LGBTQIA+ people, including their search for jobs, education is out of reach for a lot of them. To land a job is not just about economic independence but social acceptance too for the LGBTQIA+ people.
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