Yet again, Kochi proves its progressive nature, by inducting transgender workers in various departments of the upcoming Kochi Metro.

In a first, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited has decided to bring on board 23 members of the hijra community to work in ticket counters, with housekeeping teams and serving passengers. The new joiners will be seen behind the counters by the end of this month.

The majority of trans women in our country end up in flesh trade or they have to beg to survive, however, for the past few years there have been some initiatives for the welfare of this neglected community and to bring them into the mainstream.

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Rashmi CR, the spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail, said to The Guardian that the new appointments will make the trains more inclusive. “We want the metro to be not just a means of transport, but also a livelihood improvement project,” she said.

“People don’t interact with trans people. They live separated from society, they are not given jobs, their rights are not respected. We want to bring them into the mainstream by ensuring that people interact with them every day – on their way to work, for example,” Rashmi added.

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The new employees have been receiving training in customer care and are taking classes to hone their skills.

Vincy, a new trans women employee
Vincy – a new employee Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vincy

“Kochi metro is the first company in India to accept us. It is a huge achievement for us,” said Vincy, one of the new employees by Kochi metro. “I feel very comfortable there. The other workers know how to respect me because Kochi metro is recognising us.”

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“Trans people don’t get work, not even in big multinational companies, IT firms, not in government jobs, nothing. Even when we do get jobs, we are often made fun of. If I work in an office, the other workers, for example, will make fun of how I walk like a woman. I will be the laughing stock,” said an elated Vincy. She is going to start working at a ticket counter in a couple of weeks.

“I hope it will be in all the newspapers and on TV channels and other companies will take notice of it and start hiring trans people,” she added.

Rashmi, on the other hand, pointed out the lack of exposure or employment opportunity her community gets, she said,

“A lot of them have criminal records because they have no choice but to do sex work. Plus many of them have never had the opportunity to go to school, so they don’t have any qualifications. You need to have some level of education to get a front-end job but many of these people have been denied that opportunity.”

This move will prove to be a new light among the trans and third gender community in India. In our country, the stigma around the community still remains, but Kerala is the first state to acknowledge their mettle and this is an enormous transformation.

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Kerala is the first state to introduce The Transgender [People] Policy to ensure that the community does not face any discrimination. The state government had also planned a statewide education program for transgender people and launched a 10-day survey to estimate the number of transgender people in the state.

A sports meet for transgender persons was recently held at the Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. At the event, more than 130 participants from different parts of the state showed up and took part in four events, including sprint, relay, long jump and shot putt.

An education program for Transgender Community is also on the anvil.

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