I was baffled when one of my colleagues threw this unusual question on my face.
Do you feel comfortable to work with a transgender in your team?
To be honest, I was dumbfounded for a few seconds and was unable to reply. But I never had one in my team and I never thought about it. After a momentary silence, I told that I don’t have any reservations if I had a transgender in my team. I am comfortable to have him/her sitting beside me and sharing ideas.
This conversation happened a couple of months ago and again this serious topic struck my mind after the Supreme court of India passed a judgement decriminalising homosexuality.
Why do we have this kind of prejudices against a particular group of people? In spite of the education which instilled the significance of equality in our minds right from the kindergarten, we are yet to understand and apply the values we were taught.
Out of curiosity, I went on asking the same question to many of my colleagues from other teams. Most of them were initially apprehensive to express but after I insisted upon the two particular words Comfort and Acceptance, they started opening their minds. (But not hearts).
In fact, it was a more serious topic to discuss and however no one was brave enough to give out their honest opinion.
Accepting an individual for who he/she really is and considering them to be equal to us are one of the liberal characteristics of an ideal society. Our minds had to develop cold feelings towards transgender people because of the movies and other entertainment media. But the most striking fact that I want to drive here is the personal experiences we had with them at public spaces mainly at beaches and in trains, and in fact this is the reason for the hostility.
When we have already developed a hostile mindset towards these people it would definitely be difficult for us to move around with them including at workspaces.
I work in an organisation where there is gender equality. And we do have transgenders working for the company. So, at least on paper, they are given equal rights. So, how long does it take for us to accept them?
This mere acceptance signifies a lot about humanity. Most of my colleagues to whom I spoke to were ready to accept them at workplaces and they also honestly acknowledged the fact that those people too have a life and are entitled to things which we are entitled to.
This a bit personal for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable with certain kind people around them. With the term certain people, I mean not only transgenders but also others with different ideologies, preferences and inherent unorthodox characteristics.
As I said earlier, all my colleagues are ready to accept them, but only a a few honestly told me that they might not feel comfortable at the the workplace but still ready to accept them and do their bit for their empowerment.
What is it so uncomfortable in it? I don’t have a clear answer. Yes. I don’t have a clear answer.
It might be due to their lack of knowledge, their past awkward experiences, conservative mindset, social stigma etc..
But, what can be thought and done for them to live peacefully and comfortably like everyone? They have to be true to themselves and stand straight in the society and be what they really are. But there is still a long way to go in order to live in a liberal society which existed only in dreams until now.
Conclusion should be inevitable but I don’t have one right now.