Transgenders facing attacks and ostracism based on blatant prejudice is nothing new to Kerala. The recent assault on two transgenders by cops from the Kasaba police station in Kozhikode once again highlights the need to sensitize the law enforcement agencies towards the plight of third gender in the country.
According to the victims, they were returning from a dance performance at an arts festival when they were rounded up and caned by cops. However, police claim that the duo was involved in a prostitution racket. But, there was no FIR on this.
An investigation by Manorama News has thrown light on the plight of transgenders and the social boycott they face for their non-conformist sexual identities.
Majority of them have been abandoned by their families. They are then forced to live in shanties on roadsides. Faced with unequal opportunities right from childhood, several of them are forced to drop out of schools and other vocational training centers.
Abandoned and jobless, they are forced to go for menial works and some of them fall into the trap of flesh trade.
Manorama News spoke to a few of them engaged in prostitution to support themselves. One thing was clear from their stories that survival presuures had pushed them into this profession.
Born with a fragile gender and sexual identity, transgenders may be more like men or women. Depending on their psyche and sexual preferences, some of them opt for sex-change surgeries while others choose to remain in the fold. They are 'welcome' to the world only at night, the transgenders interviewed by Manorama News said.
These people who, according to Kuhswant Singh, “combine the sexual energies and inventiveness of both the masculine and the feminine genders” have to depend on shady lodges for a stay as landlords seldom rent out houses to them.
Members of the community say they need at least Rs 1,000 a day to sustain. Earlier, they were employed in different capacities by the Kochi Metro. But several of them had to leave as finding a place to live in Kochi, the state's teeming metropolis, became a Herculean task.
The two transgenders who were thrashed by the cops in Kozhikode were allegedly questioned on their presence on the street at night. Mamata Jasmine, 43 and Susmi, 38, have been admitted to a hospital with serious injuries.
However, the police version is totally different from the duo's allegations. Sub-inspector at Kasaba police station, Shijith, told Onmanorama that the transgenders were part of a gang which targets passengers coming out of the Kozhikode bus stand late at night.
The officer said he was on night patrol when he stopped the group after he received a complaint that a passenger was robbed by the transgenders.
He said no case has been registered against the transgenders for robbery or prostitution. He also failed to name the person who complained to him.