Beyonce Laishram has been a warrior all her life, but the tag of corona warrior pleases her best.
This 27-year-old resident medical officer at a private hospital in Imphal is not just Manipur's first and only transwoman doctor, but she is also North East's first transgender doctor and a symbol of hope for the state's highly visible yet marginalised Nupi Maanbi (transwoman) community.
A former student of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Beoncy today is taking part in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and said that she always wanted to become a doctor and help people.
"I look like a woman now, so no one realises I am a trans-person until they hear my voice. Some people are startled, but that's it. I have been working here since November 2019 here. There was no discrimination or hate directed towards me here. All my colleagues treated me as a friend," said Beyonce, who identifies as a post-operative transwoman after undergoing sex reassignment surgery in Puducherry.
She is also helping more disadvantaged Nupi Maanbis get access to healthcare.
Noted Surgeon Sorokhaibam Jugindra, Medical Superintendent of Shija Hospitals and Research Institute, where Beyonce works said, "Human beings are all equal. We didn't look at Beyonce's gender while hiring her. There was some curiosity among the staff initially, but that was all." Further, the state's most prominent trans activist, Santa Khurai of All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association, said that stories like that of Beoncye's are important for those who are struggling and especially during the crisis phase.
"She represents aspiration among the Nupi Maanbis. We don't just work as beauticians," she said.
"I knew that I was not a boy when I was in Class 8 at. However, I did not reveal my identity till I was in the third year of my MBBS," Beyonce said narrating her struggles in her early years.
"It was a continuous struggle to establish my identity and make people accept it. Around 2016, I realised I could no longer live that life. It was then that I started identifying myself as a Nupi Maanbi." "The Nupi Mannbis of Manipur helped me a lot. I am preparing for my post-graduation in cosmetic surgery. I want to help the Nupi Mannbis back," she added.