A transgender woman Shanavi Ponnusamy has written a letter to President Ram Nath Govind asking his permission to take her own life as a mercy killing.
She alleges that despite repeated attempts to apply for a job at Air India and despite being qualified, she was rejected every single time. She claims that the airline’s rejection was due to the fact that they don’t have the third-gender ‘category’ in their organisation.
She asked a fundamental question: If she doesn’t get a discount on taxes because of her gender, why should she be refused a job for the same reason? The issue of employment for transpeople isn’t a new hurdle to overcome.
In May 2017, the Kochi Metro Rail hired 23 transgender women for ticketing, housekeeping and customer care in stations. It was considered a substantial move for the community. But 8 employees ended up quitting just one week after the job. Their reason was that there weren’t any proper accommodations available for them and that nobody was willing to rent out rooms to them, thus underlying that discrimination must be dealt with on a deep structural level rather than just providing them with basic solutions.
On the other hand, late in 2017, Joyita Mondal became the first transgender person to be appointed as a judge in India. Along with facing verbal abuse in her younger days, Joyita’s journey to be appointed a judge was not easy. She was ostracised by her family, had to drop out of school and was left to sleep on bus stands and beg on streets. Later, through correspondence she completed a degree in law and thereafter landed the position of the judge.
The Transgender Persons Bill 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2017, is not generating a positive response. The bill identifies transgender people as “partly female or male; or a combination of female or male; or neither female nor male”. This extremely specific definition is unacceptable to transpeople who want a transperson to be seen as someone whose gender identity is inconsistent to what was assigned to them.
From the above instances and now Air India’s lack of Trans category, it is clear that efforts to help the trans community seem to be going off track.
Members of the community are talking and the government needs to sit up and listen before it decides what’s right or wrong for a segment of people it doesn’t even seem to understand properly.