Changing times: Transgenders now being accepted by society

Bengaluru City Karnataka

They feel the city is now more inclusive

Sana Suman,  a 28-year-old trans woman wakes up every day with enthusiasm. Life has been a little brighter for her these days. She works for a Kannada news channel and has found her passion working as a journalist. She loves to meet and talk to new people. However, it wasn’t always been this way.

A decade ago, Sana was seeking acceptance in society and family. She was only  18 when she was forced out of her house and had to become a sex worker. “There were not many options for us; it was either begging or sex work. I would never beg. So to support myself financially and fund my education, I started to do sex work. It was horrible, but you do what you have to, right?” she said remembering those days.

 Trans people in Bengaluru believe that people and businesses are becoming more transgender-inclusive. The transgender community is now slowly finding employment in the organised sector.

“Things are way better now. I see a drastic change in people. If we talk about a decade ago, it was horrible for my community. We had only two options: Either become a sex worker or beg. It was difficult to find acceptance from family members, let alone society. But now we have opportunities. We have a 1 per cent reservation in government schools which is amazing. There are now opportunities for us to find ourselves a decent living,” Sana informed The Observer.

Some people still  have social prejudices. “But people are more accepting towards us, especially the younger generation.”

Syeda Zoya Fatima, another trans woman, who has been a sales executive with the beauty brand Plum Goodness for six years, feels the same way. “The work environment at the store is great. Never in my past years of employment have I ever been treated differently in the store…. I won’t say it has always been this way; people still sometimes stare at me while I walk on streets, but it is way less now than before.”

Business managers say while hiring people they don’t care about what people identify themselves as.  Shivananda Ainapura, a senior manager at Simpli Namdhari’s, Brigade Road, said: “We have only one trans employee and we look forward to having more. She is a great and skilled employee, and that’s all that matters to us. So what if she is a trans woman? She is as much human as we are. She happily mingles with other employees, and we never treat her differently. She has been here for more than eight months.”

People  visiting stores don’t differentiate between who they are being served by — a transgender or a cisgender (a person whose gender identity is the same as that assigned at birth).

Sandra Thomas, 22,  a regular customer at Namdhari’s, said: “I never even for a moment thought that she was a trans woman. Now we can easily spot transgenders working in shops and stores here and there which was rare a few years ago. There is awareness now. I won’t say it is huge change, but it is a beginning and a much needed one.”

Kirti Singh, another cisgender woman, 25, has similar views. “Of course, society is changing. We can now find trans people working at many places. I  have mostly seen them working in beauty stores and salons, but it’s a start. The government has taken initiatives like giving them reservation….”

For a long time, the transgender community has been living with social stigmas and few opportunities. But they have now been getting some recognition. Recently, trans people got a 1 per cent reservation for teaching in Karnataka government schools, said a report in The Hindu. Another report, published by The Economic Times, said Indian employers are now opening vacancies for trans people. Major companies have made changes in their policies for hiring trans people. The Karnataka government also gave a 1 per cent reservation to trans people across all ranks in the police department, as per a report in the Mint newspaper.


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