Till a few months ago, 23-year-old Shaina Roy, a trans-woman used to seek alms at shops and traffic signals, but life has taken a positive turn for her today as she passes by the same places to her workplace wearing a uniform as an employee of Pimpri Chinchwad civic body near Pune.
Shaina Roy is among over 30 transgender persons, who were recently recruited by Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) as security guards and green marshals, making it probably the first civic body in the state to offer employment opportunity to the members of this community, who are often denied equal rights.
Pimpri Chinchwad municipal commissioner Rajesh Patil recently took the decision to bring the members of these communities to the mainstream and help them lead a dignified life.
Talking to PTI about the initiative, Mr Patil said that all know the transgender community faces a lot of problems in the society and is prone to abuse and exploitation.
"In order to bring them to the mainstream and provide a dignified life to them, we have undertaken some measures. As per one of the initiatives, we have recruited 30 to 35 transgenders. While some of them have been placed in the green marshal's squad, who are enforcing the cleanliness drive, others were inducted as security personnel (guards) at the civic body, while some others have been given the task of maintaining the civic gardens," he said.
They were recruited on July 1 and so far all they have been doing a good job, he said.
"We are hopeful that this opportunity will certainly help them in creating their own identity and live with dignity," he said.
Mr Patil added that this is contractual engagement and they will get certain minimum wages, which will help them lead a life just like other security guards and green marshals.
"We also have plans to empower the transgender community members by providing financial support to them by helping them form self-help groups (SHGs) and earn livelihood," the civic chief said.
The municipal corporation got the information about these transgenders through some NGOs working for their well-being and rehabilitation.
"Now more community members are approaching us with the request to induct them. We are also talking to some private firms and organisations, where they can carry out a similar initiative," he said.
Mr Patil has deployed some of the recruited transgenders as security guards outside his own cabin at the civic body headquarters.
Rupa Taksal (31), a trans-woman, has been recruited as a security guard and is currently deployed outside the commissioner's office.
"I never sought alms on streets. Before being recruited here, I worked in an NGO as a project assistant and counsellor. I had also worked as a logistics assistant with Mitr Clinic, which is the first transgender clinic in India. When openings for transgenders were announced in the PCMC, I decided to join but there was an expectation from me that I should help other members also to secure jobs," Rupa Taksal said.
She added that she insisted that trans-men should also get jobs as they face a lot of issues in terms of earning their livelihoods.
"I helped 20 transgenders to complete their documentation, obtain necessary certificates and helped them get the job here at the civic body," she added.
"The gesture showed my the PCMC and the commissioner has overwhelmed the community. It is the happiest moment for me and several others for getting a dignified job right outside the cabin of the commissioner," she said.
Taksal recently married Prem Lotlikar, a trans-man, who was also employed as a green marshal by the same civic body.
Lotlikar said the decision to employ transmen and transwomen is the best one as it will give a ray of hope and opportunity to several others who are currently seeking alms on the roads.
Shaina Roy, a trans-woman, who has been working as a security guard at the PCMC-run Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital (YCMH), credited Taksal for bringing about a transformational change in her life.
"I used to collect alms at the signals and shops, but one day I met Taksal madam. I was impressed by her personality, behaviour, professionalism and the way she was leading her life. She motivated me and prepared me for this job and helped me to get this employment," she added.
Shaina Roy said that she was overjoyed to get the job offer and be able to work at such a government establishment.
She said she gets Rs 16,000 per month after all the deductions. She added that although the amount is a little lower than the money she used to earn by seeking alms at signals, she is now happy with the job.
"Today, wearing a uniform, I walk past the same shops and signals where I once used to seek money from people. When I pass by the shops donning the uniform, the same shop owner now sees me with respect. One shop owner said - 'Ma'am, you have become a police personnel now'," a tearful Roy said.
Nikita Mukhyadal (34), who used to work as a beautification before getting a job as a security assistant, said that this initiative will help change people's perspective towards them and encourage the community members to come forward and lead a normal dignified life.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)