Is denial of basic amenities on the basis of a person’s gender justified, especially by the pallbearer of the Indian society, i.e. the Indian government? The Air India refused to accept a transgender, recognized as the third gender by the Indian laws, as a member of the cabin crew as being alleged by trans-woman, Shanavi Ponnusamy in spite of possessing the prerequisite skill set and experiences. Frustrated by the insufficiency to meet the basic needs of daily life, she was forced to write to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, pleading for a mercy killing.
“They said we don’t have a category for trans-women. But, do I get a discount on taxes? I have to pay that, right?” asked Ponnusamy to The New Indian Express.
Shanavi is a 26 years old engineer originally belonging to Tiruchendur. She underwent a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in 2014 and later worked with Sutherland Global Services and Air India Customer Support. In the year of 2016, she applied for the job as cabin crew in Air India and was called for an interview thrice but never ended up in the selection list. For the fourth time, she asked for an answer to the interview panel for the rejection and was being asked to contact the Air India.
After further inquiry, she came to a conclusion that Air India only recruits women as being said by the authorities. She later even wrote to the Prime Minister about the same and filed a complaint against the Air India and Civil Aviation Ministry in the supreme court and on November 6th, 2017, SC gave a time of 4 weeks in their notice to respond to her complaint as the report of TOI says.
“I even approached the SC but nothing has been done so far. The government is denying the basic rights — food, shelter, and clothing – to transwomen, who find it difficult to get employment and lack support from their families,” she said to the Times of India.
After being extremely annoyed with the never-ending wait, she wrote to the President for mercy killing as she is unable to sustain herself. She has lost all her hopes as our own government denies a recognition to her and refuses to accept her even after the prolonged struggle in attaining the educational qualifications. Is it shameful or disgusting that Shavani chooses to die as she is not being left with another option by the Indian government? There are special groups who are being given reservations by the government and then there are people who are not even given a recognition.
The gateway to her story, the letter which she wrote to the president as being posted by the Trans Rights Now Collective on their Facebook page:
The President Of India
Sub: Trans-women requesting for Mercy Killing due to gender discrimination by Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India.
I am the petitioner who filed a case in the supreme court of India for civil aviation and air India denied my candidature because of gender discrimination.
After a long struggle, I successfully completed My engineering graduation in 2010 and I am the first graduate in my generation.I was working with Air India customer support executive(International).where I have successfully served for 1 year later I underwent my surgery.The procedure of name and gender change published in Tamilnadu gazette.
Now from past two years,4 times I got a call letter for Air India cabin crew female post but my name was not on the final list. Later I came to know that Air India reserved seats only for female where I cant make cutoff then after a long struggle to contact Ministry of civil aviation and Air India replied that as per their recruitment policy they don’t have a category for ‘Transwomen’.
Though I have eligibility and experience, more than that citizen of India but denied my basic rights just because of my nature of gender.
So our Supreme court of India takes a step on it and asked Air India and Ministry of Civil Aviation to respond within 4 weeks on 6th nov’17. But till the date, there is no response from them and am really facing a survival issue because of denying my basic rights to live in this country. It is clearly understood that Indian government not ready to respond to my survival issue and employment question even supreme court order them to respond within 4 weeks on 6th nov’17. And I am not in a condition to pay for my daily food expense so its absolutely not at all possible to manage supreme court case by paying advocates and registrar court and etc.
So here am requesting to you that as am not able to raise in question against Air India and Ministry of civil aviation as there is no response from them already, Kindly do ‘Euthanize’. I am proud to die in my Indian government hand.
(Letter edited for clarity)
We hope government intervenes in the case and stands against the discriminative behavior against Shanavi just because she doesn’t come under the binary gender roles.