Here's My Life Through The Lens

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

I am India's first transgender photojournalist, I've given several interviews, and I'm now reasonably well-known; if you google 'Zoya Lobo'
You'll discover a plethora of photographs, posts, and stories about me; yet, I am humiliated for who I am, and I'm just scraping by. Everyone wants my narration, content, and even my body, but only a few people are willing to help me!

I had to stop studying since I was a slow learner, and my family subsequently faced a significant financial issue. My mother became addicted to drinking after my father died, and she plunged into depression, leaving only my sister to support us financially. But when she married and started a family, everything changed, and I decided to become financially independent.

The pandemic was a watershed moment for me; before that, I relied on begging for money on local trains to feed my family and make ends meet.
I gradually saved money and purchased a second-hand camera, followed by a Go Pro. However, I had to rely on the same for my daily bread butter. Local trains were suspended, and everything came to a halt when the lockdown was declared. I had no source of money, so it was a bit of a setback in my life.

But, perhaps, something came my way since my will was strong, and I didn't lose hope. I heard about the migrant workers' protest outside Bandra station after they were given false information about a special train that would transport them home. I found out about it when a family who wanted to help me called me at a nearby location.

When I observed this, I went home, grabbed my camera, and returned to take pictures of them. Despite my fears, I attended the protest; in fact, some of my shots were blurred due to my nervousness. When other photojournalists arrived, they took a look at my photos and asked if I could share them with them. They printed it, gave me credit for it, and even paid me. This inspired and motivated me to pursue photography as a career.

It took me a long time to accept myself for who I am. I originally came out to my friends, and just 3-4 of them were willing to accept it.
Even now, I have a discriminating friend. My mother accepted me into the family, but my sister was not so supportive. Considering my name and fame, she only recently accepted me.

Even now, I find it difficult to mingle with individuals and society in general. Because of how society has treated us, we have never been considered one of them. Even though they have some work with us, I've seen that some people are hesitant to talk to us. These people irritate me, and I prefer to ignore them.

During this wedding season, I could simply approach some of the wedding photographers and ask them to engage me as a freelancer; they wouldn't have to pay me, but I would be able to study and acquire experience. But I didn't because I believed the other person should not be held responsible for hiring a transgender employee. They should not lose their client as a result of my actions.

A transgender washroom was recently constructed in the Delhi Metro, but this should be done across the country. Nonetheless, I have faith that it will happen.

Things are changing slowly and steadily. But, to be honest, it should start with the family; unless and until families begin teaching about gender and sexuality, little will change.
Those who have mistreated and abused me have been forgiven. I believe in Karma, and I believe that what goes around comes around. I believe they will be held accountable for their sins.

But, putting all of that aside, I've decided to pursue a photographer's profession and advance as a photojournalist. Because my documents were not in order, I could not travel outside of the nation. This was because being transgender came with a slew of complications. However, because things are progressively changing, I can now complete the procedures. I'll attempt for more after I've sorted out these issues.

Share This Story