Steady flow of income from mainstream vocations remain elusive for transgenders in Coimbatore

Published - June 13, 2024 12:05 am IST - COIMBATORE

A transgender person seeking alms at a tariff signal in Coimbatore city.

A transgender person seeking alms at a tariff signal in Coimbatore city. | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

Shanthi, a 44-year-old transgender, and 15 others arrive at Singanallur junction in Coimbatore city by 10 a.m. They take a lunch break and are seen at the signal almost every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Some of them earn up to ₹1,000 a day. For some others, the minimum daily income is ₹500.

V. Ganesh, an auto driver, says transgenders are frequently seen begging in areas like Pappampatti, Kannampalayam, Kavundampalayam, and Mettupalayam Road.

For many transgenders like Shanthi, alms-seeking at the signals give a steady flow of income rather than getting into organised initiatives such as self-help groups. “I am a native of Tamil Nadu. I moved to Mumbai in my 30s as my family refused to accept me. I could not get a safe life there and so returned to Tamil Nadu. I joined a self-help group. However, there was no steady flow of income and so I have taken to begging at signals,” says Shanthi.

The Mahalir Thittam offers skill training in cooking, beautician, and tailoring programmes and arranges bank loans for those who want to start their own ventures.

V. Latha, the Assistant Project Officer of the Mahalir Thittam, explains that despite their collective efforts, transgenders often leave mainstream work reportedly due to discrimination and unequal treatment in their workplace. “This harsh reality has led to a decrease in transgender support groups from 15 to 10 over the past two years”. The mental stress from not being accepted in workplaces pushes many transgenders to alms-seeking, which provides a more reliable daily income, she says.

According to the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department, Coimbatore district has 527 transgender identity card holders. But, less than 50% of them have mainstream employment and 347 of the 527 have ration cards.

Anushya, a transgender and founder of the TransMom Foundation, highlighted a case involving a transgender woman, Srimathi, who was denied job opportunities for over five years despite holding a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce.

“Providing government jobs to transgenders is crucial for their shift from alms-seeking”. According to her, transgenders are seeking stable employment that offers confidence and a sense of security. Loans and other financial supports from the government should be credited into the accounts of the transgender persons directly, she added.

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