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25 Feb 2024, Edition - 3148, Sunday

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Transgenders Gaining Life Of Dignity

Umaima Shafiq

Image credit : Illustrative Image


Transgenders or Thirunangais, once ostracised for varied reasons are succeeding in many spheres as the respected third gender in India.

M Sangeetha, a transgender who owns a catering company in Sai Baba Colony , tells The Covai Post, “I passed catering course from a college here and started this business by taking a loan about 15 years ago. I employ five helpers and they are not transgenders. They have no problems working for me. We have catered for many functions and have repeated customers. I also attend the annual Koovagam festival in Villupuram by adjusting my work schedule.”

Aram Organic Stores owner, Jawahar Subramaniam, has also been employing transgenders as agents for his products. “There are many department stores in Coimbatore, but personal marketing is very important and it was good opportunity for Thirunangais. They are very efficient and now I plan to start a store in Ganapathy staffed by Thirunangais; maybe this initiative will encourage others. As a private limited company, we give them government specified monthly salary with provident fund, dearness allowance and other perks,” he told The Covai Post.

Tamil Nadu was the first state to implement the Transgender Welfare Policy in 2016 granting housing, citizenship, sex change, education and other rights. There are 36 Thirunangaigal Nala Sangams in all districts, affiliated to Then Indiya Thirunangaigal Kootamaipu headquartered in Chennai.

Babu Mohan, member of Salem Thirunangaigal Nala Sangam says, “We have about 2100 members. Earlier it was a struggle for transgenders to study or get identity proof.

“Now it has changed. Many are studying and getting respectable jobs. Our Sangam member Pritika Yashini is the first transgender to get a job as sub-inspector in Chennai last year. Another member has got job as lab technician in Rajapalayam Government Hospital.”

He adds: “Less educated sangam members get trained in animal husbandry, cookery, making masala mixes, jewellery making, phenyl production and embroidering jackets and saris. We help them get jobs or set up business. Our sister Priya now owns a taxi service in Salem, which we helped to get vehicle loans for. In fact our Sangam today employs normal people also and we also donate to society like our contributing to the Chennai Flood Relief two years ago.”

Transgenders in Tamil Nadu have indeed come a long way from living without identity and income to become respectable members of society.

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