Salutes: Patna’s first transgender bank professional for breaking glass ceiling and taboos

As a child, 29-year-old Monika, who was known as Gopal back then, often got stuck in identity crisis as she could not decide why did she have to disguise herself as a boy. “My soul was that of a girl. I liked dressing up in a girl’s attire. I felt uncomfortable in boys’ company. Cricket and other sports never grabbed my interest,” she recalls.

Living an independent life as a bank professional in the present day, Monika has overcome the biggest dilemma of her life. Currently working at Syndicate Bank in the Kankarbagh, Hanuman Nagar branch, Monika is proud to be the first transgender bank  professional in the Patna city. She joined the Fatua branch of the bank in 2007, and was later transferred to the Patna branch in October 2014.

Achieving the professional niche was not an easy feat for Monika because her individuality was being questioned by society throughout. “Earlier the society only recognised two genders – male or female. There was no place for the third gender. As a student, I was compelled to fill all my educational and professional forms as Gopal Kumar under male category. But following a direction in 2014 by the apex court that gave due recognition to transgenders under third gender, I decided to change my official name to Monika Das and my gender to transgender,” she confesses. She has also submitted an application for a name and gender change with her employer.

Postgraduate in Masters of Law from Patna Law College, Monika did her schooling from Navodaya Vidyalaya in the city.

Harassment on streets, embarrassment at home

Recounting the harassment she has faced at the hands of complete strangers on streets, Monika shares, “There have been incidents when a passer-by commented on me or laughed at me, just because I am not normal according to them. Isn’t it unfair?”

Although her family has been supportive, Monika feels that they often get ’embarrassed’ because of her. “Most of my family members are very supportive. They love me, but there was a time they were embarrassed because of me. I was considered the black horse of the family. Two of my brothers don’t even talk to me properly. They are ashamed of me,” she says pensively. Monika stays with her family near Sai mandir, Kankarbagh auto stand.

Time and again, she has been expected to behave and dress like a man but she has defied the compulsions imposed on her. “I have made up my mind. My soul and my mind is of a girl and soon my body too would be,” she announces confidently. Undergoing a sexual reassignment process (SRP) for the past two years, she further adds, “The surgery would help me transform physically so that the dilemma doesn’t haunt me over and over again. Right now, only my soul is that of a woman. Once this process is complete, my body would be that of a woman too.”

At present, Monica often avoids attending family functions because people’s eyes follow her everywhere.“I don’t want people to comment on my family because of me. As a child, it was not difficult. I could disguise myself. But now it is unacceptable for me. On one hand, I am applying for recognition as a transgender, while on the other hand, I can’t betray my conscience by dressing up like a man,” she confides. Even at her brother’s upcoming wedding, she has resolved not to dress up like a man.

At her workplace, things are much better Monica confides. “Initially the customers were also confused, whether to address me as ma’am or sir. Later they got used to of addressing me as ma’am. My co-workers are also good. They understand me and respect my individuality,” Monika shares with a smile. The colleagues at the bank also give a testimony to her congeniality.

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In Hindi:

बिहार के पटना की मोनिका दास देश की पहली ट्रांसजेंडर बैंकर बन गई हैं। 24 वर्षीय मोनिका हनुमान नगर स्थित सिंडिकेट बैंक में क्लर्क हैं। पिछले साल अक्टूबर में उसने बैंक ज्वाइन किया था। 3 जून को उसने ट्रांसजेंडर होने का कानूनी मान्यता का पत्र बैंक को सौंप दिया है।

बैंक ने भी मोनिका के इस कदम की सराहना की है। शाखा प्रबंधक पीकेएस चौधरी ने कहा कि मोनिका क्लर्क के रूप में बहुत अच्छा काम कर रही हैं। हम उन्हें प्रोत्साहित करेंगे। मोनिका ने स्कूली शिक्षा नवोदय विद्यालय से जबकि स्नातक स्तर की पढ़ाई पटना विश्वविद्यालय से की है। उसने पटना लॉ कॉलेज से एलएलबी की डिग्री भी ली है।

A girl from the capital of Bihar, trying to understand the past underdevelopment of Bihar and exploring the ways to improve the status of the State