In a first, Kochi Metro has employed 23 transgender workers as employees who will engage in housekeeping work, ticket vending, customer relations, parking, gardening and maintaining the coach-and-depot canteen at Muttom. They will be part of the 530 workers of the Kudumbasree, a women’s self-help group, and posted at 11 stations on the Kochi’s Aluva-Palarivattom corridor. The Metro agency is also the first government-owned company to have taken such a step. Advisor E Sreedharan should be justly proud!
After selecting them through a written test and interview, the transgenders have been given training in soft and technical skills as well as imparting lessons in safety. Around 41,000 candidates appeared for the written test. They were also given classes in confidence improvement for one of the greatest barriers to their welfare is stigmatization by society. This makes it difficult for them to find mainstream work, and they mostly resort to begging or sex work. In India, transgenders have always been stigmatized and ostracized from society. They are denied proper education, jobs or equal rights.
The situation is changing and Kerala seems to be leading by example. Kerala was also the first state to formulate a transgender policy in 2015 to end the negative discrimination. Finally, the ideals enshrined in the Transgender Bill 2016 seem to be coming alive on the ground.
Compiled by Usha Rani Das
Photo by Anil Shakya