“It is extremely hard for a trans person to get a job in the formal sector and be accepted by the mainstream, and now my biggest fear is that I will have to resort to traditional forms of work for trans people for my survival,” says Bela, a 24-year-old trans woman from Manimajra, who lost her job before the lockdown, and has been unable to find a new one ever since.
Bela, who used to work as a customer care official for a cab company located in the IT Park at Panchkula, has been rejected by at least 20 places post the lockdown, even though the skills and job experience she possesses are completely compatible with the job description circulated by potential employers.
The trans community has suffered immeasurable loss during the lockdown. Already marginalised and vulnerable, many of them are earning their livelihood through the informal economy, especially through sex work. Young trans people had no safety network to fall back on during the lockdown.
Many had to go back to abusive homes, which they had earlier fled from to gain independence. A minor from Chandigarh has gone back to her home in Mohali, where she claims she is still emotionally abused by her family.
Others like Bela, are trying to make their future in the mainstream to no avail.
“I get through all the stages, and finally by the end of it, when they see me and recognise that I am trans, they decide the job is not for me. This happened countless times in the last two weeks,” says Bela.
The 24-year-old, who was born as biological male, has her masculine birth name on all her official documents, which is also what throws off potential employers.
She has been unable to update the documents since the lockdown. “I contacted the local sampark centre but they are closed!” says Bela.
Since she has now adopted a feminine name and has been taking hormonal medicines to transform her physical features as well, it has become increasingly hard for her to be accepted by mainstream society.
“When I got my earlier job, I still hadn’t physically transitioned, so I was accepted. Later my colleagues and employer got to know me better and accepted me. But to establish that familiarity and trust again seems to be an impossible task,” she adds.
Her previous place of work in Panchkula has shut down, and most of her colleagues have been able to find other jobs since. Bela, who has no familiar support, since her relatives do not accept her trans gender identity, and has no other source of income as of now, has not been able to pay her rent for the last month.
She gets basic ration from members of her own community, especially from Kajal Mangalmukhi, who heads a dera and is a local trans activist, but has no money to pay rent.
“I am sick of depending on charity to survive. I came here to become independent so I don’t have to rely on others. I have the skills to get these jobs, I have circulated my CV but it is just back to square one for me,” adds Bela.
Though she has a college degree, she is now willing to do housework as well.
“I will do anything, just as long as I don’t have to do sex work or depend on others charity anymore,” she says.
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