Updated: August 31, 2021 12:15:57 pm
In a step towards inclusivity, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Chennai’s Kilpauk has for the first time employed members from the transgender community. While Manisha (28) has been offered the job of a telephone operator at the institute, Vaishnavi (26) has been employed as a housekeeping worker.
Both had approached IMH Director Dr Poorna Chandrika for a job and were made the offers when they went to the institute to obtain the identity cards that are being issued by the Transgender Welfare Board.
The two are employed at the health centre on a contractual basis. They are part of the Transgenders Social Welfare Trust located in Chepauk-Triplicane constituency.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Manisha said she feels blessed on getting the job. “We were provided orientation and later employed last month. We are hired on a contractual basis but seeing our work, our institute director has asked to continue our job. I am thankful to her for providing us this chance. I am very happy with what I do. Other workers at the Institute and the inmates do not see us any differently,” she said.
Manisha has studied up to Class X and was previously working as a supervisor at a Government Hospital for over ten years. She said they were not able to avail any of the government welfare schemes due to lack of Identity cards from the government. “A total of 42 of our community members had applied here and two of us got selected.”
“I have worked as a supervisor, ward-boy, house-keeper, and even done plumbing works. I was ready to do any job to break the stigma that we cannot do certain jobs. I was initially hired as a security personnel but was later made the in-charge for handling calls,” he said.
Vaishnavi, too, says she is very satisfied with her job. “By god’s grace, I got this work. We will keep the ward clean without getting any complaints. People used to shoo us away, but that is not the case here. Patients are happy when they see us,” she said.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Dr Chandrika said she made sure the transgender members are employed in the outpatient ward so that they have an opportunity to interact with the public.
“As part of the state government initiative, there were camps set up across all medical colleges for providing certification to the members of the transgender community. At one such camp at IMH, I was having a chat with these members. They said if they are provided a job, they wouldn’t have to get involved in commercial sex, or beg on the streets, etc. I thought if we are giving employment to so many people on a contractual basis, then why can’t we try them. They face the same stigma as mentally ill people. Also, the initial plan was to employ them in the inpatient ward. But I later decided to employ them in the outpatient ward to instill confidence in them to face the public not just here but also in other places,” she said.
The IMH director added that she was apprehensive initially as to how this would turn out and if fellow health workers and inmates would receive them well or not. “But it has been two months and I have heard only good things about them. I am hearing that the inmates listen to them patiently. They are taking care of the inmates in a gentle, warm manner. They can work here as long as they can. If other members of the community apply for jobs here and the government gives them regular postings, I will be very happy to take more of these members here,” Dr Chandrika added.
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