Through my advocacy, I hope to bring a change in individuals in terms of biases and lay the foundation for systemic changes that can happen to society.

Amita Karadkhedkar, Vice President at Citi India, said while acknowledging her metamorphosis, as she likes to call it, into a woman. Born into a traditional Hindu family, Amita was primed to fulfill her role as the man of the house. Little did she know that her future would lead her to inspire courage in thousands of people. One can see her struggles reflect through her determination as she talks about the difficulties that shaped her journey into embracing womanhood.

Amita's leadership qualities stem from her ability to empathize with people. She seems to be blessed with a kindness that creates comfort for those interacting with her. Amita clarifies that she is no counselor, but she continues to make a constant effort towards reaching out to people grappling with mental pressure and connecting them to professionals.

Interacting with people gives me the high to continue.

Like any other person, Amita's life had its highs and lows. Recalling one of the most challenging phases of her life, Amita says she had to learn to fend for herself from a very early age. With her father battling clinical depression, Amita's initial ambition revolved around focusing on education to get a well-paying job, and that's how engineering happened. Before her higher secondary board exams, Amita met with an accident. Despite immense physical stress, she decided against dropping a year of academics. It was hardly a choice for her, she said, adding that their financial troubles meant she couldn't afford to.

During this period, and through her college life, she realized the importance of moral and mental courage towards achieving any endeavor. By then, Amita had decided that she would dedicate a part of her life to being the support system for all those who would need her. Interacting with people, knowing about their life experiences, and being a part of their success by providing moral and psychological support has kept her going. Amita, a firm believer in the Hindu faith, feels that her belief in God and commitment to meditation gives her all the strength she needs to overcome any obstacles in life.

I did not have command over the spoken English language when I first moved to Pune for a job… It would be a while before I would finally adapt to the lifestyle and environment.

Amita, who completed her schooling at AK Vagmare Prashala in Aurangabad, said. But for the Site Head at Citi Private Bank Tech, this was just a new challenge that she'd soon overcome and use to inspire on platforms like TEDx and NASSCOM. Amita recalls the initial difficulties she faced in trying to blend into the culture. Like everything else, it wasn't long before she evolved into the leader that she is today.

Every time Amita brings out the allegory of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly to describe her journey into womanhood, one can perceive her joy, laced with some nostalgic melancholy. In some of her talks, she narrates the story of a kind man who decides to help the caterpillar break out of its cocoon and end its struggle. However, when the butterfly comes out, she is unable to fly as her wings are too weak. Expounding on the story, Amita says families and friends often overburden people grappling with their choice of gender, thinking that they're helping them. However, in trying to help without understanding the problem, they end up weakening the person.

Amita is not just about the past. Amita is not just about the journey that I have traveled. Amita cannot be reduced down to my gender. Amita is a human being.

Amita asserts while acknowledging that the acceptance and expression of gender should become a strength for a person and the entire queer community. Her acceptance, she believes, gives courage to several members of the LGBTQIA+ community to come out; and indeed, her achievements and position make her a role model towards overcoming adversities and achieving professional success. Not only does she represent leadership built on empathy, but she also symbolizes that gender is no obstacle towards achieving success. Amita's metamorphosis has been one of endurance, patience, and courage.

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