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Saturday, November 28, 2020

At ‘pride’ Noida Metro station, transgenders find welcoming workplace

The Sector 50 Noida Metro station was rechristened as ‘Pride Station’, the first initiative of its kind in Northern India, on October 27.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi | Updated: November 3, 2020 9:58:24 am
Pride metro station Noida, Noida transgender metro station, Pride Station Noida, Noida metro, Noida Metro transgender staff stationMahi Gupta at the ticket counter. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Ever since Kunal Mahore (28) began sex reassignment in 2018, he has been unable to secure a job. His job as a driver for a cab aggregator ended as the company was unwilling to renew his contract until he completed the process.

But his fortunes changed this year when he heard about the Metro station dedicated to the transgender community and decided to apply.

The Sector 50 Noida Metro station was rechristened as ‘Pride Station’, the first initiative of its kind in Northern India, on October 27. After three rounds of selection, Kunal and five others were employed by the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) on October 5. While two have been employed as housekeeping staff, four are employed as ticket operators.

Kunal, who now works as a housekeeping staff at the station, said he often received positive comments from commuters. “This job is very important to me as I have a partner and children at home. Further, the sex reassignment is a long and expensive process. I am still undergoing treatment and yet to undergo the surgery,” he said. Sex reassignment process can take up to three years and cost Rs 1.5-4 lakh.

Preeti Batra (27), also employed in housekeeping, said, “I am also saving up for the sex reassignment surgery. I have saved up Rs 1 lakh in the last few years.” Preeti used to work at an NGO previously where she earned Rs 10,000. Now she draws a salary of Rs 14,000. She also wants to change the mindset of people regarding transgenders: “When people think of transgenders, they think of those on streets asking for money. But that is not the reality… we want to rise to higher positions from here,” she said.

Praveen Mishra, Executive Director, NMRC, said that breaking stereotypes was one of the motives behind the initiative. “The community has been facing discrimination for long. We wanted to provide them with a platform where we could protect their dignity and uplift them,” said Mishra.

Mahi Gupta (27), who works at the ticket counter, said that people greet her with respect while some stop to congratulate her. “I was subjected to a lot of bullying while growing up. Now we are finally being given respect. But we are far from our goals, there are many others in our community searching for jobs,” she said.

On Monday afternoon, Kirti (19), another transgender, visited the Metro station to enquire about job opportunities, only to be informed that all the vacancies had been filled up. “People come to inquire about jobs everyday. I hope that DMRC and other organisations will follow suit,” said Mahi.

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