It’s no secret that the trans community is one of the most marginalised and oppressed communities in India. So, when we read about how consistent measures are taken to ensure they are integrated into mainstream society, it’s a cause for celebration. A step in this direction comes by way of the Kerala state government’s move to inaugurate its first shelter home named Jyothish Bhavan, in Thrikkakara, a district “designed exclusively for the community”, according to district social justice officer Subair KK. This is the second such government shelter home to come up in the state. While the home in Thrikkakara is yet to be inaugurated, it has already proved to be a safe haven for a few trans women.
In a statement to The New Indian Express (TNIE), Sr Tenslin, the caretaker of the home, said, “As soon as members of the transgender community reveal their identity, it becomes difficult for them to continue in their respective houses. So, they move out searching for jobs and safe shelter. Unless we take the initiative to give them proper shelter, they will likely be sexually exploited and end up in flesh trade. It is a very commendable effort on the part of the Social Justice Department to sponsor an exclusive shelter home for transgenders in the state.”
Nimisha*, an inmate at the home, told TNIE that the shelter has proven to be a great relief to the community, especially for those experiencing difficulty in securing reasonably-priced accommodation. “I had joined Maharajas as a male student, and I revealed my identity while studying there. Later, it was very difficult to get admission in the transgender category. Finally, I got through. The college authorities have been very cooperative and the students are also very friendly. They are respecting my decision to reveal my identity,” she said.
At present, a total of seven trans women (which includes students, employees, and job-seekers) are staying at Jyothish Bhavan. Says Teslin, “The shelter home had been working for four years now. It was incorporated as the shelter home for transgenders by the social justice department last month.”
*Image via shutterstock for representational purposes only