‘Techie’ transgender woman faced with discrimination, resorts to begging in Delhi

New Delhi: Kiran Sakhi, a transgender woman has been reduced to begging in the national capital and living in a state of penury after she lost her job and faced discrimination in the society.

Kiran, a post-graduate degree holder in computer science from Punjab University, lost her job two years ago for embracing her identity as a transgender and since then, she has had to resort to begging to sustain herself.

“The company where I was working accepted me as a transgender, then after two months I began to feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t get along with my junior colleagues at that time. I could not work with them. I became a laughing stock for them. On March 6, 2014, I resigned forcibly and got myself out, even though my human resources and directors motivated me to continue over there,” Sakhi told ANI.

Asserting that she barely reaches the interview stage when she applies for a job due to her gender, she said that she was now begging for a living while at the same time applying for jobs. She also thanked the hijra community that they took her under their wings and treated her as a family member.

Due to their lack of access to jobs and education, many of India’s male-to-female transgenders -also known as ‘hijras’ – are forced to work as sex workers or beg on the streets.

“I faced a lot of difficulties, I did sex work, begging, I did everything I could to make ends meet. I didn’t have these feelings before; life was pretty simple back then. But since I became a transgender, then I realized how tough life is. Now I am begging in Delhi, life is tough and it is difficult to survive but overall I am happy,” said Sakhi.

In April 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgender as a legal third gender and, in a landmark judgment lauded by human rights groups, called on the government to ensure their equal treatment.

The court ruling recognised the community as a marginalised group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status.

This means all identity documents, including birth certificates, passports and driving licenses must recognise the third gender and the government must allocate a certain number of public sector jobs, seats in schools and colleges to third gender applicants, say lawyers.

But while the judgment was been welcomed by campaigners, it is not being implemented across the country.

Activists say the ruling is contradicted by the court’s reinstatement of a gay sex ban that does not recognise their right to sexual relationships.