A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, 23-year-old Khushi— a transgender — went to the nearest bank in her neighbourhood to deposit her month’s savings.
She stood in the bank queue for 15 minutes, before deciding to return home, not because of the length of the line but because of the giggles, comments and ridicule she faced while standing there.
“I regularly go to the bank to deposit/withdraw money from my account. But, I try and visit the bank when there aren’t many people inside. I have never felt so humiliated. Men were passing loud comments at me and women were secretly giggling. There was a bunch of people who actually asked me to stand in a separate queue,” she said.
The demonetisation aftermath has been stressful for many in the city but it has been a nightmare for people belonging to the third gender. Social exclusion and lack of bank accounts and identity proofs have made their ordeal worse.
Narrating a similar incident, Ritika said that when she was standing outside an ATM to withdraw cash, some men standing behind her touched her inappropriately and started clicking her pictures. When she complained to the security guard, he pleaded helplessness.
Madam hum kya kar sakte hain, aap bane hi aise ho (What can I do if you are like this), he said. “I was almost in tears and left the place,” she remembers.
Rudrani Chettri, a Delhi-based transgender activist and the head of Mitr Trust, said that most of the transgender or ‘kinar’ are uneducated and do not have bank accounts.
“Most of them carry out their dealings only in cash. They do not have much expenditure as most of them do not go to movies or to malls. They save almost everything that they earn. Now with the note ban, what will they do with all the money they have,” she said.
Another transgender, who works as a sex worker, said she didn’t have a bank account because the banks kept turning her away every time she tried opening one.
“The bank officials do not cooperate. They either mock us or become uncomfortable. In such hostile circumstances why will I want to get an account? But after the demonetization I am scared that I will lose all my savings,” she said.
Names changed to protect privacy