CALENDAR 2020

DECLARATION OF EMPATHY

Today, Inclusion & Diversity is a boardroom conversation and companies are making concerted efforts to build truly inclusive and diverse work environments. However, there is still significant room to reduce the unconscious biases that exist in workplaces, be it gender, race, or even ethnicity. One community that faces such biases both at the workplace and outside is the trans community.

This year, we wanted our calendar to play a role in highlighting the trans people and their need for recognition and inclusion both in the workplace and in society as a whole. Zinnov’s 2020 calendar is a result of our collaboration with Sandeep TK, a photographer, who undertook an ambitious photographic project called the ‘Declaration of Empathy’. This calendar features 12 distinct, passionate trans individuals, their aspirations, hopes, and dreams.

The project clearly highlights this community’s longing to be an active part of the social fabric and their potential to participate in moving companies and the society forward. As leaders, we have a responsibility to announce out loud our position on diversity and inclusivity, which will further reflect in the culture of our organizations.

On that note, we wish you a very Happy New Year and hope that as an ecosystem, we continue to take collective measures to build truly inclusive and equitable work environments.

JANUARY

Anna Mary Magdalane (Annamma)

Love gives one incredible strength to do things impossible. Annamma fell in love with a man when she was 17 and mustered the courage to come out to her family. Her family, however, did not accept her new identity, so she moved out to live with her love. Annamma wants to be a priest, as it was her grandmother’s wish. This photograph has been taken near the tomb of her grandmother.

“I used to think that it is abnormal for a boy to behave like a girl. I believed that I was sick because I wasn’t interested in any sports. All I wanted to do was dress up as a pretty girl. As I grew up, I realized that I don’t think of myself as a man. I realized that I was not abnormal, but special and different.

I think our young generation should learn about gender and sexuality in their schools. They should learn that gender is beyond being male and female and that it is the only way to change the society. I hope that one day society evolves enough that I can become a priest, and I can educate people regarding this and create more love and acceptance in society.”

FEBRUARY

Miya Shivaram

A sense of belonging doesn’t come from fitting in, but from self-acceptance, courage, and a sense of self-worth. Miya never believed in fitting in and her journey of accepting her identity and self, speaks volumes about her audacity and resolve.

“Since childhood, I loved wearing my sister’s jewellery. I was always aware of the woman inside me and was desperate to become my true self. However, being a male child, I had to take the responsibility of providing for my family. When I could not continue living with the lies anymore, I ran away to Tamil Nadu. At the age of 23, I underwent a sex change operation to become Miya. My biggest achievement and perhaps the happiest moment of my life was when my parents accepted me for who I am. I am ready to stand strong against any societal stigmas and prejudices, as long as my parents are with me.

I wish to become a lawyer someday. After the discrimination and the bullying that I have faced in my life, I think being a lawyer will help me fight for my rights and for those who choose to accept themselves and their differences.”

MARCH

Sasha Zare

Accepting the truth of who you are, gives one extraordinary strength and power to face all odds. Sasha is a trans woman whose audacious dream of walking the ramp has withstood society’s mockery and discrimination . Her intrinsic belief in herself, stills give her the courage to dare to dream.

“My journey of discovering the girl inside me dates to when I was in class one. I loved wearing my sister’s clothes, spending time with other girls, and even dressing up as the queen for the Christmas fancy dress contests. I was mocked, rejected, insulted, but I knew I was always truly a woman.

I am an ardent fan of Nayantara and Deepika Padukone and my dream is to walk the ramp for international designers one day. I also want to undergo a reassignment surgery and have a uterus implantation to truly live my life as a woman. I hope to be a model and a mother, just because I believe and I can .”

APRIL

Kuttiyamma

Love transcends labels, gender, color – it’s about acceptance in its truest form. Kuttiyamma is one of those ‘happily ever after’ stories that we look for in books and movies. She never thought she would find love and be loved so deeply, especially being a trans woman. Today she has her own ‘tapri’*, but she dreams of owning a restaurant where people from all castes, creed, and gender are welcome.

“Growing up, I always faced bullying and discrimination from the society. Coming out as a trans was perhaps the most difficult but the most liberating decision of my life. Today, I am really happy, and I am married to the love of my life. I am happy that I am being accepted as I am and that I don’t have to live with dual identities. Very few people from the trans community turn out to be this lucky – I am grateful.

I enjoy cooking and aspire to start a restaurant of my own someday. I want people from all over the world to eat and enjoy my food.”

*Tapri – Roadside Tea and Condiments Stall

MAY

Divya Darshini

When you find your identity, you also find your purpose in life. Divya, despite being subjected to hardships for being a trans woman, aspires to serve the society by becoming a doctor. Her selflessness and determination are laudable and inspiring.

“I am a qualified Physiotherapist. I am glad that because of my qualification, I am able to take care of the members of my community when they are in need. Right now, I am dealing with all the prejudices associated with being a trans woman. Despite facing bias and neglect from the society, I believe I will win them over with good, and I am willing to serve to ensure we live in a better and more accepting world.

Every member in the trans community is talented and there are a lot of us who are qualified and educated. I am positive that one day the society will become accepting enough and identify with us first and foremost as human beings and then as trans people.

I hope that I can further pursue my studies and become a qualified doctor.”

JUNE

Nandini K K

When your identity becomes your armor, it can never be used to hurt you. Nandini was ridiculed throughout her childhood for her effeminacy. But, now when she’s one with her identity, all that she hopes for is respect.

“I realised my feminine behavior when people used to call me by the name ‘Radha’, which is a character in the movie Chanthupottu*. Later, I understood that it was because of the way I talk and walk. I was ridiculed by my classmates and teachers for my mannerisms. Now my deepest desire is to walk past those who ridiculed me with my head held high.

I think all the bullying and intolerance have made me a stronger person. Today, I am a dancer, and I wish to start a dance academy one day. I want to escape all the mockery I face, live a normal and respectable life, one where I am respected for my talent and craft, and not my differences, like any other human being. I also hope to have my own family one day .”

*Chanthupottu is an Indian film based on the life of a man with feminine mannerisms.

JULY

Tharika

Experiences, memories, and scars architect your identity. Tharika had a difficult childhood, but that did not deter her from hoping for a better world for children.

“As a child, I experienced a lot of discrimination and abuse, which has had a profound effect on my confidence and my personality . But I don’t believe in dwelling in the past and I only hope for a better tomorrow. My experiences have taught me that childhood is a crucial phase in everyone’s life; what we learn and see as a child can pave the way for our future. I also believe that every child has the potential to achieve greatness if given positive reinforcements and the right environment to grow.

I want to become a child protection activist so that I can work for children, save them from abuse, give them confidence, and give them direction to be agents of change. I want to make the world a better place for children.”

AUGUST

Siddharth Sathya

The only journey that matters is the journey within. Siddharth’s journey of realization as a trans man is inspirational and moving. He was forced to move out of various rented houses because he dressed as a man and did not fit in. He was always stared at and insulted for being who he was. He wants to be a police officer so that he can fight the injustice that people face for being different.

“I realized my sexuality early on, but the journey was very tough and confusing. I got thrown out from many rented houses because I dressed like a man, but looked like a woman. I am usually always looked at as an exotic object. I despised being stared at, but unfortunately most trans people experience this uninvited attention.

Despite these discriminations, I feel we trans people are lucky to experience things as both male and female and have a better understanding of humanity. I want to not just survive as a transman but to live a full and happy life. I strongly believe that one has to be in a position of power to bring the change that one wants to see in the world.”

SEPTEMBER

Devasena

It is when one starts looking at everyone as people, rather than communities, that one will become truly inclusive. Devasena, a trans woman, has always had a knack for design and has an innate aesthetic and craftmanship to create fabrics and sarees. She aspires to become a designer and showcase her clothes to the world.

“Growing up, I always enjoyed looking at my mother drape her saree. I loved the fabrics, the flow, and the beauty of the attire. Now as a trans woman, I am known for having a good eye for Sarees. I can also drape Sarees well. The sarees I gift to my friends are their favourites and I am known across the community for my sense of fashion and good taste.

I think if given a chance, I have the potential to become a fashion designer. I would love to dress people and hope to design my own sarees one day. I dream that my collection of clothes will be showcased in big fashion shows and worn by big movie stars soon.”

OCTOBER

Saya Mathew

It takes unprecedented courage to take that first step towards one’s dreams. Saya’s aspirations are bigger than her fears, and she bravely took that first step towards her dream of becoming a businesswoman. Her story is one of grit and unbeatable will, that has helped her walk a journey where dreams do come true.

“I always aspired to become a businesswoman. I failed, I tried, I failed again, I tried again. Then, I came across a beautician course for transgenders conducted by the social justice department of Kerala and Dhwaya beauty academy. I discovered my calling and made the most of this opportunity.

Now what I need is a place for myself that I can call home with the acceptance of public where my parents and family members can visit me. We don’t want to be separated, discriminated or segregated from the society. We are equally talented as you and we are brave, honest, and true to our self. Give us opportunity and we will show you what we are capable of.”

NOVEMBER

Gauri

Coming out of the closet is like freeing one’s soul from shackles, and soaring high. It takes courage to leave the comfort of a closet. Gauri, a teacher by profession, had a ‘normal’ life that fit the conventional societal mold. But she gave it all up for her freedom, to be to true to herself and her identity as a woman. She dreams of resuming her teaching job one day.

“I declared my identity as a woman during the queer pride march at Trichur 2018. I gathered the courage to come out and join the people representing my community in the pride march. Coming out of the closet and demonstrating courage sets an example to everyone struggling with their identity. I hope to have encouraged more people to come out and live their lives on their own terms.

I am a teacher by profession, and have taught economics for 2 years, but had to stop because of the constant ridiculing at work. Later I started working as an accountant in a super market. But my transgender identity attracted problems, which led me to quitting eventually. I am confident that one day, I will get back to the profession I loved with a passion, and strive to instil the beautiful quality of embracing differences, in my students.”

DECEMBER

Aneesha John

Everyone has an innate need for belonging, love, and acceptance - but this need can never trump self-acceptance. Aneesha, despite yearning for acceptance, chose to be true to her identity. She desires complete acceptance and recognition as a human being and not just as a trans person.

“Everywhere I go, I feel out of place – as if I don’t belong. The kind of ignorance and demeaning behaviour that I have experienced for being a trans woman is disheartening. I always feel that people are not taking me seriously or looking at me as a person who is challenged, as a pariah, just because I am a trans woman. I am not seen as a human being but as a freak with unreal expectations and hopes.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a model. I believe I have the attitude, and the style and I want to work in television and shine on the silver screen one day. I truly hope that this will help me win love and respect from everyone.”