God’s own country, but Kerala no ‘country’ for the third gender

Published: 07th November 2016 01:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2016 03:19 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Being a transgender is not easy. Pramod, the 37-year-old from Vizhinjam, is  another living testimony to the harsh fact.
Ever since getting a job as caretaker in an old age home of Social Justice Department at Pulayanarkotta a year back, Pramod had been eager to ditch the shirt and trousers for a sari and attend the duty. In fact, Pramod wanted to wear a sari ever since discovering her true gender identity. However, the dress code and behavioural restrictions imposed by male inmates of the home became an obstacle and Pramod is now thinking of taking up farming back home to escape harassment.

“Pramod’s appointment made history of sorts, as it was the first time that someone from the transgender community got a government job, though contractual, in the state - perhaps, even in the country,” said Anil Chilla, state coordinator of Oasis Cultural Society.
The Social Justice Department appointed Pramod to the job on a one-and-half year contract, following pressure from voluntary organisations working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenders (LGBT). Pramod had dropped out after SSLC, but secured an undergraduate degree via distance education. However, the multitasking job of a caretaker did not prove easy, as male inmates of a care home were not ready to accept a transgender.

“I was harassed by them for being a transgender. The women inmates were compassionate, though. During Onam celebration, I wanted to dress up, but my harassers threatened me with dire consequences if I entered the compound wearing a sari,” said Pramod, who soon reached a tipping point and approached the department with support from NGOs. While the intervention of the department’s district-level officer has settled the issue to a large extent, it has disturbed the transgender community, which had pinned high hopes on Pramod’s appointment.

Societal pressure forced Pramod into marriage at the age of 25 years. Later, when the marriage ended in divorce, Pramod started avoiding the society fearing harassment.  “For transgenders, getting education, housing, employment, healthcare, land rights and others are not easy to get, owing to lack of awareness in society and an insensitive bureaucracy. Social and bureaucratic ostracising have made the community invisible,” said Anil.
The state had taken a step to address their issues. A survey conducted by the Social Justice department found there were 25,000 transgenders in the state. However, the budget allocation of `12 crore for them has mostly remained on papers.


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