CHENNAI: It’s been only a month since two transgenders, JM Manisha and R Vaishnavi, got jobs on contract basis at the Government Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Kilpauk. And now, the institute is delighted with having them on board.The opportunity came when the two transgenders, along with a group, visited the IMH to get transgender certification. Manisha (27) and Vaishnavi (26) from the city requested Dr P Poorna Chandrika, Director of IMH for a job, as they were struggling without one.
This is the first time the IMH has employed transgenders. Manisha (27) is employed as a telephone operator and Vaishnavi (26) as a housekeeping worker. “I keep telling other staff that they also should be like Manisha and Vaishnavi. They are sincere workers and very attentive. I was told that sometimes, Vaishavi helps even aggressive patients calm down with her soothing words. I thought there would be problems, but everyone here has accepted them,” said Poorna Chandrika.
Manisha and Vaishnavi say their life has changed after getting the jobs. Now, they have received recognition among people and are also living with dignity. Vaishnavi was begging at shops before she was employed in the IMH. She says those were the most painful days of her life. “Not all people treat us with dignity. Many shopkeepers cursed and chased us. It hurt a lot.”
“There were days when I cried while begging as I used to be humiliated by shopkeepers. As I went from shop to shop seeking alms, images of my parents and family would flash on my mind, particularly whenever I saw some happy family enjoying an outing. Only recently my family accepted me,” said Vaishnavi.
Manisha, who studied till class X, said that she came out of her home in 2015 and friends in transgender community were taking care of her. Though they approached many companies and people for jobs, none were willing to offer them one. “People have a wrong opinion about transgender community. So they don’t give us an opportunity to work. But we thank IMH Director Poorna Chandrika and other superiors for giving us this chance,” says Manisha.