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BJD Appoints Transwoman Meera Parida As VP Of Mahila Wing

Meera Parida

Biju Janta Dal’s women’s wing Biju Mahila Janata Dal (BMJD) party named Meera as Vice President recently making her the first transwoman to ever hold the position. The 38-year-old social activist is a resident of Begunia block, Khurda district. She has won several awards for her work in protecting the rights of marginalised groups who are vulnerable to HIV and AIDS across the country, including the Best Transgender Leader in India award by UNDP, NACO and HIV Alliance in 2016.

BJD chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik appointed her as the VP in a ceremony held at the Naveen Niwas where Parida came along with her supporters and formally joined the party. She told the media that she is willing to contest in the Lok Sabha elections from Begunia constituency in Khurda district.

“I was inspired by the Chief Minister’s leadership and I will support the people who work for the benefit of my community,” she told Orissa Post.

Parida currently heads All Odisha Kinnar Mahasangha and she became the first transgender entrepreneur in the country to ever have been approved for loans by a bank. In 2017, she received an amount of 10 lakh rupees by Odisha Khadi and Village Industries Board to start a Khadi products manufacturing unit venture. She is also the treasurer & Co-Founder, SAKHA-first LGBT CBO in Odisha and was part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

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Parida was born as Mayadhara Parida and because of her gender, she had to face a lot of challenges in society and within her own family for belonging to the trans community. But she fought the difficulties and emerged as an activist working for the rights of marginalised people.

Apart from her, the party also appointed Sanjukta Behera as the working president of Gajapati district, informed BMJD president Minati Behera in a press release.

In 2018, Chandramukhi Muvvala became the first transwoman ever to contest an election in Hyderabad. Early this year, Congress also appointed Apsara Reddy as the head of their Mahila wing. Increasingly, political parties are considering the need for diversity and inclusion in their organisational structure.

I was inspired by the Chief Minister’s leadership and I will support the people who work for the benefit of my community

Odisha will also see a transwoman candidate, Kajal Nayak is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time from Korei assembly seat of Jajpur district. The state unit of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) named her in its first phase candidates.

“I am extremely delighted that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to field me from the Korei assembly segments of Jajpur district. I am thankful to BSP for showing their faith in me and in the transgender community,” she told reporters after her candidacy was announced.

She also spoke on the issues she will be taking on, “There are many issues in the region which need to be raised along with issues related to the transgender community. I want to raise issues of transgenders along with the issues of the people of the region.”

The 27-year-old was born as Kuna Chandra Nayak at Goladia village in Chandbali block of Bhadrak district. She is the youngest among her six siblings.

Picture credit- Life Beyond Numbers

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