September 16, 2020
Recently, the story of Adam Harry, the Keralite transgender pilot grabbed attention. Mainstream media like Times of India, ANI News, and India Today covered his story. His successful, remarkable, and inspirational story.
We have heard them before. LGBT+ kids struggling to get through the daily tasks and accessing amenities that is easier for every other kid. We read them like superhero stories and derive morals out of them. And that’s the value their stories hold.
To quickly bring things into context, Adam Harry is a 20-year-old boy. He is from Kerala and is transgender. As an aspiring pilot who completed a one year course in pilot training in a college in Johannesburg, his return to India created chaos in his life.
As soon as he returned, his parents learnt of his gender and decided to keep him cooped up at home. Adam was under house arrest for a year. They tortured him mentally and physically which led him to run away from home.
To add to his series of never-ending trouble, when he joined as a part-time faculty at aviation academies, they refused to pay him a proper salary. But offered a “food allowance”.
The Levels of Intolerance
If one were to analyse Adam Harry’s story, they could easily see that these are things he had to face sheerly because of his gender identity. The intolerance towards the LGBT+ and especially towards transgender people is heightened in each level. The violence, the abuse, and the dismissal of skills, talent, and education because of how one identifies is upsetting. Especially when gender identity does not interfere with their working.
All Adam wanted was to become a pilot. That is it. He studied well and was equipped enough to go out and make his own life without support of his parents or peers. But the point remains. A 20-year-old boy should have to sacrifice himself every step of the way for a dream that is easily accessible by many others.
LGBT+ discrimination is still rampant in most parts of India. And unless you are financially stable, identifying yourself as something non-straight can lead you into serious situations.
Culture, morals and social regulations bind families in India. Before you are allowed to identify yourself, your familial identity seeks precedence. In a setup like this, being transgender is not an easy task.
But when gender identity influences your job opportunities, salaries, and how you are perceived as a worker, where skills and education become negligible, there is a clear need for political intervention.
And that’s exactly what happened
Luckily for Harry, the Kerala government intervened after the media made his story known to the world. But that was a few steps later. The first thing to happen after the media covered his story was a call from Child Welfare. Child. Welfare. Remember we are discussing the story of a young boy driven out of his house by circumstances with no fault of his own.
Child welfare suggested him to visit the social justice department and seek a better job. This led him to Biju Prabhakar IAS, the secretary of the Social Justice Department. Mr Biju Prabhakar asked him to find an aviation academy where he could continue studying. Adam Harry like any other passionate child was excited to embark on his new journey. But he remembered the biggest barrier that lay ahead. Financial aid. The fee for the course was a pretty huge amount.
Luckily for him, Mr Prabhakar had answers to this as well. He suggested Harry to apply for a scholarship through the transgender justice board.
All the eggs in one basket?
Government-funded scholarships are determined by two things, the fee of the course and the determining who deserves it. Harry’s choice, of course, was expensive and received opposition because that money could fund a few people instead of one. Mr Prabhakar pushed forth Harry’s case and the money was sanctioned.
Kerala Government now proudly states that it supported the 20-year-old transman to become the first transgender pilot in the country.
Kudos to Adam Harry for getting this far and closer to his ambition in life. His sacrifices and struggles are finally justified. But wait, are they really?
Adam Harry Had Big Dreams
We have already established that Adam Harry was determined to become a pilot. He did not let his gender or family get in the way of his dreams. But not everyone gets to be as lucky as him when it comes to realising their dreams. Media has always played an important role to shuttle information across platforms. But how many of us have access to knowledge that Mr Biju Prabhakar passed onto Harry? Political intervention is what made his story a success. And with more laws and politically charged pro LGBT+ stances, one does not have to sacrifice family or run away and look for jobs at the age of 20. This is why we need LGBT+ to become a part of political conversations everywhere.