Kerala's first transwoman journalist makes debut with Chandrayaan-2 report
As the Vikram lander separated from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter on Monday, a 22-year-old journalist from Kerala, Heidi Saadiya, delivered a live report on the moon mission, making history as she did. That's because, Saadiya is the first transgender woman journalist in the state. She had joined Malayalam news channel Kairali News TV on August 31, and the Chandrayaan report was her very first assignment.
Saadiya was a student of Trivandrum Institute of Journalism
Earlier this year, Saadiya completed a post-graduation course in electronic media from Trivandrum Institute of Journalism. She told India Today that despite being qualified for the job, many channels rejected her applications for an internship "without citing any particular reason." After several rejections, she eventually joined Kairali TV as an intern, and was later offered the position of a news trainee.
'My colleagues and seniors on the desk encouraged me'
Speaking about the assignment, Saadiya told India Today, "In the morning when news about Chandrayaan came in, our desk chief asked me to get ready for a live report." She added, "Initially, I was surprised and a little nervous too. But then my colleagues and seniors on the desk encouraged me." She brushed up on the ISRO mission, and completed the task successfully.
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja praised Saadiya on Facebook
Notably, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja congratulated Saadiya in a Facebook post saying, "Chavakkad native Saadiya has made a successful move at a moment when Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, successfully separated from the orbiter. She's the first transgender broadcast journalist from Kerala."
Parents refused to accept her; Saadiya left home at 18
However, even as Saadiya makes headway in the career that her mother wanted for her, she can't help but think about her parents. Assigned male at birth, Saadiya hails from Chettuva, Thrissur. At age 10, she realized she was different, and came out to her parents years later who refused to accept her. She left home at age 18.
She initially pursued MBBS, but quit due to transphobia
After completing school, Saadiya pursued MBBS from a private medical college in Mangaluru. However, she left the course mid-way after facing transphobia. She then completed a BA English Literature course from IGNOU, while doing part-time jobs in Bengaluru to get by. In 2018, she finished 18th in a common entrance test for a PG diploma program by the Trivandrum Press Club, and studied journalism.
"Boys in school would press my breasts and run away"
Saadiya recalled that she had gynecomastia (swelling of the breast tissue in boys/men due to hormonal imbalance) and "minor features of a girl." "During lunch breaks, the boys in my school would press my breasts and run away," she said, while sadly recalling, "I could not open up about this to my friends or family." In 2016, she underwent gender confirmation surgery.
Saadiya hopes for more "inclusive workspaces" for LGBTQ in future
"I hope the LGBTQ community gets more such inclusive workspaces in future," said Saadiya, who feels the newsroom is her "second home" now, News18 reported. She also does not hold a grudge against her parents, and hopes that they could see where she is today.