A study conducted by a Panjab University PhD scholar has found the school and college dropout rate among the transgender community people is very high because of social discrimination, financial constraints and the lack of family support as many of them are abandoned by their families when their gender preferences surface.
Only a few determined members of the community are able to complete their education and take up vocations of their choice, reveals the study.
The research work, conducted by PhD scholar Simran Dhatt, on ‘Educational, Vocational and Employment Aspirations of the Transgender Community’ revealed the persons interviewed for the study showed preference for make-up, hair-styling, dress-designing, henna and tattoo application, dance, painting and nature photography.
However, the respondents said they were not encouraged by their families to pursue these interests as these were considered too feminine. Dhatt points out that many of them were compelled to live in ‘Deras’ and earn their livelihoods by singing and dancing at weddings and during the birth of a child. Many of them also become sex workers while others take up assignments with non-governmental organisations working the areas of HIV-AIDS.
Presently, seven of those who participated in the study are working, while three are studying and one lives at a Dera (the main source of income for Dera residents is ‘Badhai’). Dhatt says, “The transgendered community in the country has lived on the fringes of the society for long. They have been denied education, vocational training and employment opportunities. As more and more people are coming out with their gender orientations, the society at large is faced with the issue of how to deal with this.”
The paper explores the present educational, vocational and employment status of the community and their future aspirations.
A total of 11 persons from the community based in Chandigarh and Ambala were interviewed through a purposive sampling using a questionnaire. The study defines the transgender community broadly and encompasses people who experience and/or express their gender differently from the conventional or cultural expectations. The term includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people.
Of the total 11 persons interviewed during the study, eight of them identified themselves as transgender, and a participant was on the initial stages of considering surgery for gender transformation. The two participants were very sure that they had different orientations when it came to their sexuality but were not sure how to identify themselves.
The study recommends that family members of the transgendered individual must seek professional counselling. Teachers in schools should be made aware of such issues. It also calls for the sensitisation of siblings and classmates so that the dropout rate comes down. Dhatt adds, “All the respondents had passed their Class 12. There is no doubt that the intellect possessed by the community members is no different from others, as almost all participants showed an interest in pursuing their education further.”
If March 8 is the International Women’s Day, March 6 (Sunday) is being celebrated as the Transwoman Day, with a pride walk from The PU to the Sector-17 Plaza.
This will be the fourth year when the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders and queers) pride walk will be observed under the aegis of the Saksham Trust, Chandigarh.
Dhananjay Chauhan, president of the trust, who did his graduation from Government College, Sector 46, and masters in social work from IGNOU, says, “We are grateful to the university authorities and the Chandigarh administration for allowing us to carry out the annual walk.” Chauhan adds, “Members of the minority sexual community suffer from discrimination at work, educational institutions and hospitals whereas these are the places that they should be protected the most.”