Shobhana Mudaliar, a 50-year-old transgender who left her hometown in Coimbatore around 30 years back, has for the first time found a ‘respectable’ work by involving herself in spreading awareness in Navi Mumbai.
Used to roaming around the city, Mudaliar and 150 other transgenders were the best catch for Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to spread awareness about waste segregation. They are now employed for the same.
For the last nine months, the group has been involved in visiting housing societies, performing awareness acts at traffic signals and announcing messages in the interior roads of Navi Mumbai.
Mudaliar feels on top of the world when, after every act, she has people wanting to take a selfie with her. It’s after she started to get involved in the ‘social work’ that she has found her respect back even in her hometown from where she had once run away from due to constant insults and assaults for being a ‘trans’. There are others in the group who share the same feeling.
As part of various activities for Swachh Sarvekshan, NMMC involved transgender community from Navi Mumbai to spread the message of cleanliness and importance of waste segregation. On Thursday, during the Indian Swachhata League in Navi Mumbai, more than 200 transgenders came forward to participate in the cleaning drive at Mini Seashore, Vashi.
“We received the certificate of Best of India Record (BIR) for having more than 200 transgenders coming together for a social activity. The idea behind having them is for inclusion of all the communities. No one should feel left out and hence we have always included them for the social activities,” Babasaheb Rajale, deputy municipal commissioner, said.
“As a child, I was beaten up at home regularly for being a transgender. The society made fun of me and hence I ran away after my Class 12 and reached Mumbai. Now, ever since they have got to know that I earn by participating in a social cause, all are proud of me. Whenever I visit my hometown, they tell me that I am doing a great job. Though it is not permanent work and we are called four or five times a month and paid for that, I tell my villagers that I get ₹20,000 per month and it is a part time job that gives me more respect. I want the government to take note of our work and provide us permanent jobs,” Mudaliar said.
It’s been 30 years since running away from home and 22 years since living in Navi Mumbai for Mudaliar. “Though Mumbai has always been a better place for us because we were never looked down upon, people give us more respect by offering us food, wanting to take selfies with us and messaging us for the work we do,” she added.
The group is made up of transgenders in the age group of 20 to 50 years and have been trained by Richa Sameet, who runs Let’s Celebrate Fitness (LCF) social organisation.
“It’s important that people understand that transgenders are not lazy and they want to work provided they are given the opportunity,” Sameet said.
Anita Wadekar, 36, another transgender staying at Kopri village in Vashi, said, “We don’t like to beg but we have no other way to survive. If the work associated with NMMC continues for more hours and days, and with a good salary, we would be very happy to do it.”