Sanjana Tiwari, A Transwoman Is Helping Change Lives
Tiwari’s mission as a volunteer is to raise awareness about safe sex practices
Poverty once forced Sanjana Tiwari to work in the sex industry. However, she managed to free herself from the exploitation and now earns her living as an autorickshaw driver. With financial independence secured, Tiwari, a transwoman, has set out to help others.
She is a volunteer who educates the trans community about their sexual health. “We had no idea about HIV when I first began doing sex work. When Deepshikha, the NGO where I currently volunteer, was able to get in touch with me and explain about HIV, I was terrified for my life,” said Tiwari, adding “I'd been working without using a condom for 16 years and was sure I had the infection."
Luckily for her the test results were negative. She then decided to try living a meaningful and independent life from that point. “I left my job and began working with Deepshikha. They assisted me in becoming an autorickshaw driver. They also encouraged me to pursue my creative interests; I now also perform street plays to raise HIV awareness,” she explained.
Tiwari added that “Those who are positive get discriminated against even at government facilities. I once brought a young HIV-positive boy to a government hospital to get tested for tuberculosis (TB).
“The HIV patients frequently co-infected with TB because their immune systems are already compromised. Under the government's HIV and TB programmes, interventions are directed at them). However, they skipped the test on this boy. He needed to go to a private clinic. Nobody should experience this,” Tiwari recalled.
“Sanjana met us 10 years ago as a field worker. We realised that she has a good personality and can counsel well. Whenever she talks to someone, she can easily convince them. She can relay information to the community.
“We felt that connecting with her would make it easy for us to connect well with the community. Sanjana is working really well. She gives online counseling to the hidden sex worker population in Delhi. She helps them in all possible ways," said Kamal, a manager at Deepshikha Samiti.
As a volunteer at Deepshikha Samiti, an NGO, Tiwari is actively involved in educating individuals about STD prevention, safe sex practices, and available resources.
Her commitment to helping trans people embrace their identities and promoting their value as human beings showcases her dedication to equality and social justice.
Tiwari introduces herself endearingly, showing her acceptance and support for gay men and transwomen at risk of HIV. By sharing her own experiences as a transgender person and a former sex worker, she is able to connect with others on a personal level and break down the stigma associated with these identities.
This approach helps foster understanding and create a safe environment for dialogue and support. Tiwari also works as an autorickshaw driver in Northwest Delhi.
She collaborated with LGBTQ+ organizations, HIV/AIDS support groups, and medical professionals to amplify her advocacy efforts. She has worked tirelessly to create safe spaces, offer support services, and promote inclusive healthcare for transgender individuals living with HIV. By partnering with activists, researchers, and policymakers, Tiwari strived to influence public policy and improve the lives of marginalised communities.
In order to prevent LGBTQ children from entering the sex industry, she also emphasizes the importance of providing education for them. "Usually, the poor turn to sex work because they don't know other ways to make money. The issue is that effeminate students dropout of school because they are sexually preyed upon by their peers, teachers, and school personnel.
“There must be a way to guarantee that they finish their education fearlessly. Then, they can seek employment that will enable them to live normal lives, ” tiwari said.
"Trans people avoid visiting hospitals out of concern for prejudice. As a result, the community may be reluctant to speak up. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Sanjana Tiwari. In addition to being a remarkable transwoman, she also fights against HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.
“She offers free condoms at red light areas, provides counseling to transgender people, and raises awareness. She is kind and generous to everyone." her friend, Deepti said.
Throughout her journey, Sanjana Tiwari encountered resistance, criticism, and prejudice. However, she remained undeterred and continued to challenge societal norms and stereotypes. Her unwavering commitment to the cause earned her recognition and support from both the LGBTQ+ community and the general society.
Her advocacy work sparked conversations, changed perceptions, and inspired others to join the cause. Her dedication to battling social taboos and the stigma of HIV has created a positive impact on the lives of many individuals, empowering them to embrace their authentic selves and seek equal rights and opportunities.
She believes in the importance of comprehensive sex education for all children. She recognises that access to accurate information and knowledge about sexual health is essential for individuals to make informed decisions and protect themselves.