When she left her job in Abu Dhabi last year and came out in the open about her transgender identity, Zara Sheikha was determined that she would not let life's challenges weigh her down.
Her joy knew no bounds as she was appointed as an HR Executive in UST Global, one of the popular MNCs in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. She became the first transgender person in Kerala to get a job with a multinational company.
In an interview with The News Minute Zara spoke about her struggles as a transgender person and her elation at getting the job.
After I returned from Abu Dhabi in August 2016, I attended many interviews in various firms. Though I could clear the interview nobody was ready to accommodate me as a transgender. I was done pretending to be male, so I wanted to work somewhere, which accepted me as I am. That is how my friend Prajit helped me get a job in UST Global. They said they were ready to give me a job if I passed three rounds of interview.
She spoke about how she felt comfortable and accommodated from the first day itself. This job was a dream come true for her.
The company was ready to offer me a job accepting my transgender status. It was my colleagues’ behavior that surprised me. When I went to office the first day, I had a sinking feeling as to how others would look at me. Breaking all those preconceived notions, they were happy to accommodate me and they all respected my identity. The company also informed me that I could use the ladies washroom and toilets, which according to me is a great acceptance.
Zara, a BSc Botany graduate from Kerala University, was working in the HRD departments of different companies in Chennai and Abu Dhabi prior to this job. She was also a Quality Analyst at Sutherland Global Services in Chennai.
She spoke of her struggles regarding her identity.
Wherever I worked earlier, I had hidden my identity. I went to school, college and workplaces as a male, which I was actually not. Though I had hidden my identity, people were able to perceive the behavioral differences and they used to harass and taunt me a lot. I would not like to remember the bitter experiences of the past.
She painfully remembers how people called her names and harassed her physically too.
Zara was also separated from her family for the last few years, as they were not able to accept her identity. “It was just two years ago that I at least attempted to reveal my identity. I started working with a few organisations for transgender persons and also decided I should live the rest of my life without hiding anything. And since I left my previous job, I completely changed to a transgender person,” she said
Happy to witness the changes happening in Kerala, she said that they offer a new ray of hope for transgender persons. “Transgender police, schools for us, Metro Rail appointments, every new move is a hope for us and I am so happy about it. Let my job also set an example for other companies and make them accommodate transgender people. I am sure within a few years, the transgender community will be in the mainstream, at least in Kerala,” an optimistic Zara says.
“Now I have a good job. I will have a peaceful life too, I dream that all in my community have a better life,” she signs off.
(This story was originally published in The News Minute)