Most insurers in the country still deny health coverage to both transgenders and HIV patients.

In a major ‘policy’ breakthrough for the people living with HIV, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), the national insurance regulator, in 2013 issued a circular to all insurance companies in India to extend health coverage to HIV-infected persons.

But, most insurers in the country still deny health coverage to both transgenders and HIV patients.

These policy matters have had little impact on Seetha, Saraswathi and Kalaimani (names changed) – three HIV-infected transgenders from Madurai, who have been working as sub-agents for an insurance company in the city for the past couple of months.  

“I am happy to be part of the insurance sector. The money I earn by selling insurance policies help in paying my medical bills,” said Seetha on Sunday. The trio were forced to fend for themselves after their families learnt about their health condition.

“Since my company is against employing transgenders and HIV patients, I decided to informally nominate them as my assistants. That way, they could make a living and meet their medical expenses,” said P. Valarmathi, an insurance agent with Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).

Their job is to sell insurance policies to potential customers and receive commission for the number of policies sold, she added.

In the last three months, the agents have sold policies to the tune of over Rs. 3 lakh.    Barathi Kannamma, a transgender activist said, “Transgenders are gradually being recognised by society, which is a positive sign. Most transgenders are coerced into prostitution owing to gender discrimination and weak economic status. It is one of the important reasons for the outbreak of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.” People should come forward and offer employment opportunities to transgenders, as it would help prevent them from going astray, she added.

The client list of the sub-agents includes, V. Balakrishnan, Superintendent of Police, Madurai, who recently took an insurance policy worth Rs. 3 lakh from them.

Transsexuals have already proved their mettle by serving in the Tamil Nadu Home Guards and District Legal Services Authority.

Mr. Balakrishnan, Superintendent of Police told The Hindu that transgenders must be offered jobs to help generate income. They can be empowered only through employment. It will discourage them from indulging in illegal activities, he added.