Hyderabad: Pravalika, the victim of transphobic violence which led to her death, was an unemployed MBA. Though highly educated, she couldn’t get a job in Nizamabad because Pravalika identified herself as a transgender, a person who doesn’t conform to the conventional notions of male and female.
As she hailed from a very poor background, she moved to Hyderabad in search of a job, but met with no luck and eventually resorted to begging and became a sex-worker.
Shunned by mainstream society, a majority of transgenders and hijras have no source of employment and livelihood.
“Not all from the transgender and hijra community are beggars and sex-workers, but a good majority end up as one. However, no one grows up aiming to be a beggar and it’s just the lack of jobs, which pushes the members from the community towards sex-work and begging,” said Vyjayanati, a member of Telangana Hijra Transgender Samiti.
Although, there is no empirical data available, it is estimated by members of THTS that there are more than 9,000 transgenders and hijras in the city. Around 1,000 are estimated to have graduated from some course or the other, but a job is a dream yet to come true. “A lot more might be there, but the stigma keeps them away from approaching us,” said Vyjayanti.
Vyjayanti, works for a consultancy but doesn’t want to name her firm. “I am one of the privileged few, who have a job,” she said.
Rachana, a member of THTS, has a M. Com and an MA to her credit but a job evades her because of transphobia.
“Though the corporates claim to have a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender friendly policy, it’s not always so. The way we dress gives away our identity and most of the time I was shooed off at the gate by the security personnel,” said Rachana.
However, it’s not just corporate firms which exercise transphobia. Most of the transgender and hijras can’t pursue higher studies as they are thrown out of the families or villages at a young age. When an uneducated transgender tries to eke out a living through jobs like waiters or sanitary workers, he or she too faces the same problem.
Those who are lucky enough to get such jobs say that it’s a “hire and fire model” that employers adopt. “Even the most educated ones from the community take up jobs like waiters if they get one. But we are hired on a temporary basis. When the employer finds a ‘normal’ person, we get sacked,” said another member of the community. “Hardly anyone has managed to keep a job and we go back to begging,” she adds.