Women TalkInspiring Stories

Meet India’s first trans woman photojournalist

How is Zoya Thomas Lobo an inspiration?

Every year the month of June is celebrated as ‘Pride Month’ all over the world. This month is dedicated to honoring the LGBTQIA community and their right to live a dignified life as a citizen. The essence of this is that you can be proud of yourself, regardless of the gender of the person you fall in love with, whatever your sexuality, and not be discriminated against on that basis.

During Pride Month, queer communities take to the streets to eliminate hatred, ignorance, value their presence, and build a better society. In this context, it becomes necessary to recognize the people of the LGBTQAI+ community amongst us in different spheres, who are constantly fighting stereotypes and finding a better place for themselves. Let’s talk about India’s first trans women photojournalist.

“Kinnar” who blesses the people. Whether it is marriage or the arrival of a new guest in the house, they go to the house of people and congratulate them on every auspicious work and take good deeds from them. Their life is not that simple either. The people of this community have to face many difficulties since childhood. To run their lifestyle, they have to beg on roads, traffic signals, and trains.

Many eunuchs in India have achieved many places because of their high spirits. Zoya Lobo becomes India’s first transgender photojournalist. Zoya Thomas Lobo, a resident of Mumbai, used to earn her living by begging in local trains. After saving some money, Zoya bought a second-hand camera. Zoya has become a photojournalist by overcoming every problem. Due to poverty, Zoya could not study beyond the fifth standard.

She bought the camera by saving money

Zoya Lobo was already very fond of taking photos, earlier she used to click photos from the phone. People liked her photograph very much. Zoya bought a second-hand DSLR after begging and saving some money. Zoya had the camera but there was no work.

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“The Beginning of Change”

The initiative to change Zoya Lobo’s life happened when Zoya saw a short film on transgender. But the artists were not from the trans community, so after that Zoya contacted the director of the film and told him that his film is very good, but why didn’t he give a chance to a trans person?

After that, the director made a sequel for that film and gave Zoya a chance in it. Zoya did very well in that film. This instance is from 2018. Since then, the urge to do something arose in her mind. She met an editor of the local news during that time, and Zoya’s life got a new light. She got the first appointment letter of her life. Zoya started as a freelance journalist.

How did she get an identity?

The advent of the corona pandemic had a profound effect on people’s lives. Then the lockdown was imposed and the migrant laborers had gathered, during that time she took many well-liked photos, and also published them. Zoya says that during that time many journalists took photos from her. At that time, many became aware that there is also a journalist named Zoya Lobo in this field.

Even today the trans community in our country does not have enough opportunities to read, write and grow. Even today, trans identity is not accepted in homes. Still, most of this community’s people live traditionally by begging or dancing and singing. Even if you look in the movies or the advertising business, you will find that the image of the trans community is being strengthened rather than broken.

The rise of courageous people like Zoya in this conservative environment is a ray of hope for the entire community. Zoya, 26, is now carving a niche for herself today with the identity of an independent photojournalist. She has also been honored by the Labor Minister of Maharashtra in a program organized by the Bombay News Photographers Association. Along with this, she has also been given the title of India’s first female trans photojournalist by ‘Humsafar Trust’, an organization working for the queer community.

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Jagisha Arora

MA in History and has worked as a freelance writer. She writes on issues of gender, caste and democracy.
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