This progressive move was an attempt to integrate them into the social mainstream, said R Vasuki, state director of social welfare. "We're trying to ensure that transgenders don't resort to begging and extortion to make ends meet," said Vasuki. The programme will soon be expanded to other districts of Tamil Nadu.
B Preethi (23), a transgender, said, "We've no means of employment. And contrary to what people think, we do not like begging. We want people to trust us and help us lead normal lives." Responding to this, Vasuki said, "Such people deserve our respect. This is possible only if transgenders are given salaried jobs."
Thirty transgenders will undergo training for a week, after which a test will be conducted before they become LIC agents. "Certain qualifications are necessary. In urban areas, we're employing those who have passed class XII and in rural areas we'll employ class X pass," said A Udayakumar, development officer at a LIC branch here.
"This will hopefully stop the violence, abuse and insults that we constantly suffer," said P Tanisha, another transgender.
S M Jayalalitha, head of the Thiruvallur group of transgenders, said employment would help erase the stigma associated with them. "Since most transgenders have many contacts among shopkeepers and policemen, it will help them sell insurance policies," she said.
Reshma Sharma, an advocate who runs an NGO to help transgenders get employment, said, "I've been working to integrate them into society for long, but it is good to see the government take steps too."
"Thanks to Reshma's efforts, I am now employed at HCL as a security guard. I hope others like me, also benefit from this scheme," said M Venilla, a transgender who works at the Greames Road office.
R Vasuki, state director of social welfare, said self-help groups for transgenders, modelled along those meant for women, were functional in some districts. Loans were being given to them to make a respectable living. "We hope this awareness will help parents of transgenders accept them as they are. Instead of living in independent groups, they should live at home and lead normal lives. We're doing our best to achieve this. The collaboration with LIC is our first step," she said.
16 Oct, 2010 0050hrs IST TNN[ Revathi Ramanan ]