Manjamma Jogathi, a folk artist from Karnataka, is the first trans person to preside over the prestigious Karnataka Janapada Academy. She has mastered several art forms such as the Jogati Nritya and has won the Padma Shri for her exemplary work in the field of folk dance.
Manjamma has faced several adversities throughout her life, at the age of 15, her family shunned her because she was trans. She was assaulted and is a victim of rape all the while struggling to make a life for herself.
She recalls instances that had an impact on her that she will never forget.
“When I used to travel by bus, people would move away from me even if there was a vacant seat next to me.”
To make ends meet, she sold idli and chutney but society had made it impossible for her to be happy.
However, she has found solace in her art emerging as a dancer. Her work provided her with the power she is required to live and grow in confidence. Her name is now printed on the bus tickets of Karnataka state road transportation and serves as a reminder to her of her struggle which has made her stronger.
According to her, the transgender community’s status in India is considerably better today than it was in the past. She mentioned that things are changing and that people are taking notice of her. Perhaps the most important recognition for her is being accepted as a woman.