Kochi: The Kochi Metro will provide jobs to 23 members of the transgender community. They will be engaged in customer relations, housekeeping and crowd management for the metro service. The service is expected to be operational next month.
The members underwent a month-long extensive multi-skill training before they were absorbed in the Kochi Metro with the help of government-run Kudumbashree Mission.
Fr. Paul Thomas, an official with Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, which was also associated with the training programme, told reporters that they took up the challenge to train them in skills that make them employable in various positions in the Kochi Metro.
Rashmi CR, spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail, said the new appointments were part of a wider initiative to make the trains more inclusive. “We want the metro to be not just a means of transport, but also a livelihood improvement project,” she said. “People don’t interact with trans people. They live separately from society, they are not given jobs, their rights are not respected. We want to bring them into the mainstream by ensuring that people interact with them every day – on their way to work, for example.”
The project to rehabilitate them was taken up after police reported several incidents of clashes among the community members. Many of them had turned to flesh trade to raise money for sex reassignment surgery.
Police had cleared 25 of the estimated 128 transgenders in Kochi for the rehabilitation programme. While 23 of them successfully completed the training which ended in February, the remaining two dropped out.
The members were trained in spoken English, personality development and customer relations apart from handling computers.
According to an estimate, there are around 25,000 transgenders in Kerala. Meanwhile, the news of the appointment of transgenders has been lauded by UK daily The Guardian. It has published a report on its website with the headline “Indian train network makes history by employing transgender workers.”