Malini Das is a transgender rights activist, computer science student at University of Engineering and Management, Rajasthan and Community Correspondent.
Malini started and led Rajasthan’s first Queer Gulabi Pride in 2015. “Every city has a pride and I didn’t like that locals had to go to Delhi and Bangalore to attend the pride parades. I wanted one in our city,” Malini shares.
However, she faced resistance from a lot of conservative sections in the state; members of the RSS entered the first meeting and physically threatened the organisers including her. She approached the police for permission to conduct the parade and eventually, the parade took place under police supervision, like in most cities. With over 200 persons participating, the parade was successful. “It’s festive and we get to make ourselves visible to the public”, she shares. For future pride parades, she wants to increase the focus of the agenda on policy demands.
“The transgender community is a hidden sexual minority and there are very specific relations like the guru-chela (leader-follower) system that only a person from the community can fully explain,” Malini said. VV’s model of “news by those who live it”, therefore, works well for Malini.
A committed activist, Malini is currently collaborating with Rajasthan Patrika and lawmakers to push for all-India policy changes to current laws for transgender persons. “The April 2014 Supreme Court ruling recognised transgender persons as equal citizens but our community still faces problems in getting jobs,” Malini points out. She is especially working on the rights of transgender persons in cases of incarceration. To begin with, Malini has sent circulars about trans-sensitivity to police stations all over Rajasthan.
Malini has always wanted to get into the IT space; particularly work on software development and design Android apps. She also has a job lined up at her university but does not want to cut back on her activism.
“I’m not going to beg for rights, I'm also a citizen. Initially, the World Health Organisation marked transpersons as persons with disorders, then as as persons with dysphoria and eventually, as normal human beings”, she says, understanding the work that lies ahead of her and believing that VV’s platform will assist her in her goals.
Malini is also a part of Video Volunteers' campaign #KhelBadal to dismantle patriarchy. The campaign is taking on patriarchy through stories of women and men who face, negotiate and challenge patriarchy in everyday life — at home, at work, at school, in cultural and public spaces. Under the campaign, she makes films that capture the nuances of routine, normalised gender discrimination, stories of change and runs Gender Discussion Clubs where lively, introspective conversations around gender equality and patriarchy happen.