This episode of Yari Varu features a candid conversation between RJ Priyanka and Sumangali Balakrishna.
Sumangali became engaged in sex work and begging after becoming a part of the transgender community in 2010. Earning a livelihood through these pursuits is tough and riddled with harassment and social rejection, which made her want to quit and search for a more ‘mainstream’ job. After a distressingly long search for employment, she received an offer from PeriFerry, an organisation that provides work opportunities to sex workers and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Sumangali was appointed the administrative executive of the co-working space called The Bohemian House in March 2018. With this job, her lifestyle and her social standing changed completely. “The transgender community is today breaking all the stereotypes and showcasing their art, creativity, and professional dedication in everything they take on. In the past two years, the percentage of transgender persons working is the mainstream has gone up significantly. It provides hope that people are accepting them more and more,” says Sumangali.
Sumangali is multifaceted. Aside from being a busy professional, she is a classical dancer and a dramatist as well. Articles on her life story have been published in The Hindu and The Bengaluru Times. Today, she is a highly-recognised member in the community and beyond, with people recognising her and wanting to talk to her. The community and she feel a palpable sense of pride at this journey. Sumangali wants people to recognise that transgender persons are part of society. “They should be provided with more and equitable opportunities.”
Listen in for more!