Joyita Mondal – The First Transgender Judge In India

The first transgender judge of India, who created a history, says that her fight is ongoing for the justice and self-respect of his community. Joyita Mondal was appointed on July 8, 2017, as the first transgender judge at the age of 29 years. She became one of the first among the transgender community to become a judge of West Bengal’s Lok Adalat.

Joyita Mondal created a history when the West Bengal government, in India appointed her as a judge of Lok Adalat in north Bengal. She hopes that her appointment will surely pave the way for many other people in the future.

The 29-year-old Joyita Mondal, born as Joyonto in Kolkata perhaps never imagined that someday she would become the first judge in India from the transgender community.

Her early life was full of struggle. She had to even beg on the streets to survive. However, today she has been appointed to the bench of National Lok Adalat in Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal. According to her, the discrimination that she faced has contributed to her present achievement.

Do you want to know more about her extraordinary journey? Read on……

Early life – Dropped out of school after class 10th

The 29-year-old Joyita Mondal was once made homeless in her early part of life and was forced to beg because of all the discrimination that she faced in the society. However, after she spent her time working for transgender rights, she got inspired to study. She achieved her law degree to could stand with and fight for anyone who faces social discrimination.

Joyita was born as a male child in Kolkata and was given a male name, Joyonto. She belongs to a traditional Hindu Bengali family who lived in Kolkata. In spite of belonging to a respected family, she had to face a lot of discrimination as a transgender.

She was unable to bear the humiliation and verbal bullying by many other boys in school, and thus she was forced to drop out when in 10th class. She was not able to adjust herself to the gender norms that were imposed on her. Later, she left home in 2009.

While leaving her home Joyita told her mother that she has got a job offer in Dinajpur, which is a neighboring district. She promised her mother that she will come back in 2 months if she cannot properly adjust to the new place, and thus her mother agreed to let her go.

Career – Transgender community and used to work for the welfare and development of the community

After she came to a locality called Islampur in Uttar Dinajpur, Joyita never returned to Kolkata. During the early part of her life in Uttar Dinajpur, she spent her life begging on the streets, sleeping at any place near a bus stand, and spending time attending various functions as a “hijra” – a eunuch.

Later she started working for the rights of transgender and slowly extended her battle for anyone irrespective of their gender who was facing any kind of social discrimination. At the same time, she also completed her studies through a correspondence course and obtained a law degree.

Founder of the Dinajpur Notun Alo Society

In the year 2010, Joyita Mandal was the first transgender from their community in the Uttar Dinajpur district to get her voter’s ID. Then she established an organization called “Dinajpur Notun Alo Society”, which means new light for reaching out to various transgenders in that area and also from others in that region, and help them. At present, the organization works with almost 2,200 transgenders.

Date Of Appointment – In July 2017

In July 2017, Joyita was finally appointed as the judge of Lok Adalat in Islampur. As a member of a transgender community, she happens to be the first person to have earned this opportunity to enter into the judicial system of India, with the legal power to bring change in society.

Although she has achieved a lot, spending the night at a bus stand or being thrown out from the hotel rooms just because she happens to be a transgender still haunts her memory. She would consider this new appointment as one of the biggest benefits for the transgender community, only if a minimum of 2 to 3% of this transgender community in Islampur can get dignified jobs.

She says that transgenders can be appointed at least as Group-D staff, if they do not have enough educational qualifications. Often governments prefer to appoint someone from any weaker communities to suppress the voices of the transgenders and as a judge, she would not allow this to happen.

She said that in the past, most people treated her as an untouchable and often passed abusive comments. However, today people come to her and often request her to mediate in various family disputes.

Self-Determination Challenge

Joyita will continue to fight against prevalent discrimination and social bias against transgender people in the field of education and employment all across India. In the year 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognized transgender people also as a third gender, which was a landmark judgment.

It had ordered the government of India to offer transgender people certain quotas in various jobs and education almost in the same way as with other minorities. However, for Joyita, her battle is still not over.

She thinks that a handful of her community becoming judges or principals will not bring any change. As long as these transgenders are forced to work as a sex-worker and beg in trains or on the streets, individual successes like her mean nothing. While she is today moving around in fully air-conditioned cars, but there are people from her community begging during the day and are forced to work as a sex-worker at night.

Judge in the Lok Adalat Dinajpur bench in West Bengal

Though her present appointment in Islampur as a judge gave a lot of hope to her community, she feels her mission will be completed only when she will see transgenders bing employed in various government and private sectors. She has not come to Uttar Dinajpur from Kolkata for just her own fight.

She cannot ignore her community due to which she has reached this position. She will therefore request the government to start offering government jobs to transgenders first, so that her community can get dignified life. She also considers the work of peons, coolies, or other such Group D works a dignified job.

Mondal said that so far she has settled 4 cases that were related to the bank settlement of loan defaults, and also a few tenant-landlord disputes. Usually, Lok Adalats have 3-judge benches and her fellow judges were extremely cooperative and they treated her with due respect.

However, the awkward glances have not vanished yet, as often she can feel negative vibes from a few of those whose cases that she adjudicates. However, so far none of them have ever insulted her. Often many people are surprised to see one transgender person sitting in the judge’s seat.

On 5th December 2019, the protection of the right of transgender persons Act was implemented, but there were sustained objections and protests by the transgenders and intersex community. The Act was challenged by Swati Bidhan Baruah before the Supreme Court. Incidentally, she also happens to be Assam’s first trans judge.

She is the third in India who also as a transgender has been appointed as a Judge. She hails from Guwahati and will mediate cases in Lok Adalat. The petition of Swati Bidhan Baruah raises many crucial constitutional questions regarding the Transgender Act. While a few challenges are straightforward, but few others will need the Court to take more progressive stands.



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