During the panel, Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist, stood up to ask the former President about being accepted in the face of discrimination.
"I'm a transgender woman," she began. "I was a sex worker, I was a beggar, I was rejected by all sections of society. [...] I have so many issues to bring before you as a social activist."
Among those issues, she said, was how to find acceptance when you have been stigmatized and discriminated against.
Obama responded by telling her that she had already taken the first step toward change.
"It starts with what you just did, which is to find your voice and to be able to articulate your views and your experiences and tell your story," he said. "That's true of any group that's been marginalized, stigmatized. Finding that voice and being able to tell a story so that the perceptions that somehow you are different are broken down because people start recognizing their own experiences in you."
In sharing your own experiences, Obama said, you could motivate others to speak up as well.
"Once that voice is there, hopefully others join you, and so now you have networks and organizations and allies," he added.
"In the present situation in India and the United States, we don't see an enabled environment where people have the right to expression, right to identity, right to privacy, all the fundamental, civil and human rights guaranteed to us," she told The News Minute. "How can the movement come together with the support of the Obama Foundation — I think that will be the highlight of the meeting tomorrow."
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