Meredith Williams

Meredith Williams (Vikalp Women’s Group): Meredith worked for seven years in human resources at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She then joined the PBS Foundation to work on fundraising. Meredith was in her final year at Georgetown University Law Center when she undertook her fellowship at Vikalp and visited Vikalp in the spring of 2011 with a team of students from Georgetown Law’s Community Justice Project clinic. After her fellowship Meredith wrote: “There is no question that the best part of my fellowship was the people that I worked with. Maya and Indira, and the work that they do, are inspiring, but also the people that Parma serves were 100% gracious and welcoming to us.”


13 Jun

In just a few days, I leave for India to work with Parma in Baroda to advocate for transgender rights in India. I’m excited to return to Baroda exactly two months after I left in April. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Indira and Maya, the leaders of the two organizations, to eating the delicious food, but most of all, to working with all of the amazing people that Parma serves.

My trip in April was a whirlwind. My classmates from Georgetown Law and I had an ambitious agenda for those ten days, two of which were spent traveling to and from India. After working with Maya and Indira remotely for almost three months, we were excited to meet the leaders in person and to experience up close all of their amazing work. While we returned home exhausted, we were able to accomplish everything that we had hoped and we left even more impressed with Parma and its work than we had been before we arrived. The fact that the two leaders, and all of the members of Parma’s community, are able to accomplish all that they do in the face of strict gender roles and societal norms in India makes the work that much more amazing.

The problems that we will be attacking this summer are legal issues, but will not be solved simply by changing the law. Some of the issues that we will tackle are simple on the face, such as helping couples to create a legally enforceable will, but family and cultural pressures and a lack of clarity in the laws make them more complicated than most people can imagine. Other issues that we will address, such as the need for most transgender individuals and their partners to “elope” (or rather, run away from home) in order to be together are complex even on the face, and only get more difficult after families try to engage the police in bringing one or both members of the couple home. In both these instances, it is necessary to change the laws to protect the rights of transgender individuals and their partners, but also to push forward changes in societal norms and encourage families to be more accepting. There is a long road ahead of us to help these changes come about, but I am absolutely excited to return to India and get started.

Posted By Meredith Williams

Posted Jun 13th, 2011

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