By Ila Ananya
Earlier this month, the Kerala Metro Rail Limited, in association with Kudumbashree announced their decision to hire 23 transpeople for its metro project in Kochi, giving them jobs in various departments, including housekeeping, ticketing, customer relations, and parking.
It’s being seen as a huge step forward, and it’s the first government agency in the country that offers employment opportunities to transpeople — most hope that it will be seen as the beginning of more opportunities opening up in other jobs. The News Minute has since reported those who are being employed as saying that while they were bullied in their previous jobs, this opportunity will be different. Their contracts are supposed to begin from June this year, and they’ve been given month-long training in soft skills, and communication.
Now, the latest news is from Times of India, who reports that the metro authorities are trying to do everything they can to make the transpeople who’ve got jobs comfortable — including providing them with separate bathrooms if they wish to use them, and allowing them to dress as they choose, so that if they haven’t come out to their families, this will not be a problem.
It’s true that the Kerala Metro Rail’s decision is an important one, and we’re glad it’s been taken. What we can’t shake off, however, is the unease that has come from reading about them being trained to be patient with customers who insult them, as Times of India reported. Vincy Antony, for instance, who has been given a job at the Metro but hasn’t come out to their family, has been quoted as saying, “In the event of anyone making fun of us, we have been told to make them understand with patience. We’ve been given training not to react harshly.”
This is probably true — we’ve seen time and again how transpeople are treated. In Karnataka there’s been a crackdown on transpeople who beg on roads in the name of “rehabilitation”, and TV9 even thought it was important for them to air a completely made up show about them that resulted in the transcommunity facing immense backlash. So while they’re being trained to be patient with people who think it’s their right to treat them terribly, their words are also an indication of what people need — a crash course in not being abusive.