The LGBTQI community in India has come a long way in terms of acceptance and overcoming stereotypes. From organising transgender beauty pageants to spreading awareness about the community through LGBTQI film festivals, the community has definitely come to be a vital part of the society. But to see a transgender person is working as an HR (Human Resources) professional in the corporate world otherwise known to be brutal and blunt, comes as a pleasant surprise.
Zara Sheikha, born as Nishant, is an HR consultant in an MNC based out of Kerala. And none other than Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP from Kerala has shared her story on Facebook.
Sheikha, in a Facebook post by a page called BeingYou, shared her life story — how she was asked to ‘be like a man’ because she was born as one, how she was bullied in school, how her father was disappointed that she was going to ‘bring shame to the family name someday’. It was only in her college second year, that Sheikha herself researched about transgenders and finally understood her sexuality. After coming out, her next step was to get a job and when a friend told her there was an opening for transgenders at an MNC, she knew what she wanted!
Tharoor shared her inspiring story on his Facebook page with the caption: “Remarkable story of Zara Sheikha, born Nishant, first transgender employed in Thiruvananthapuram.”
“Be like a man. I heard that so many times growing up. Except all I knew is I loved arts, enjoyed bright colours, and wanted to dress up like the girls.
In school, I was always mocked and bullied by my classmates, some even used derogatory terms to address me. As a child, I would always make friends with the girls, and never played with the boys. My father yelled about it a lot at home. But I never changed. He always told that I would bring shame to the family name someday.
I was always a good student, only seeing the top three ranks in school, until the ragging in college made me withdraw into my shell. My behaviour was so effeminate that anybody and everybody would make fun of me, calling me names and imitating me. At home, I used to secretly dress up in my mother’s sarees, and apply make-up. One day, my father burnt my clothes and broke my make-up box. I still have vivid memories of the day.
It was in my second year when a professor introduced us to genetic disorders and chromosomes. I searched for hours on the internet and read about transgenders. Suddenly everything seemed to be making sense. I recognised the woman in me, though my family never came to terms with it!
Two years ago, I decided to come out. I couldn’t live a lie any longer. My family wasn’t supportive so I decided to move out. That was the start of my journey. Initially there was a fear of acceptance, it was more about how people would react, and part of it was my nervousness. Next was to get a job. I attended many interviews without outing myself but the minute a friend told me there was an opening specifically for transgenders, I jumped at it. Today, I’m the first transgender HR executive to be employed by a popular MNC, who truly believe in transforming lives. I was nervous on the first day but all my fears were rested. I even use the ladies washroom which is a great acceptance.
I’m in a long distance relationship and I would be meeting his parents soon. I hope they accept and love me the way I am.
I was born as Nishant, a shy introvert and today I’m Zara Sheikha, (Egyptian for princess) filled with confidence to conquer the world!
PC: Khan and Baker”