Despite government’s promise of shelter homes, transgenders continue to risk their lives living on streets.
Transgenders who were promised shelter homes by BBMP in 2019 are still waiting for them. The result: They continue to live on the streets.
Swetha, a transgender in Shivajinagar, informed The Observer: “Shelter homes will be helpful for people like me who do not have a place to stay. There are too many transgenders like me who are on the road with no job. We beg every day. If shelter homes provide us with basic facilities, we will feel more secure and happy. They can make arrangements for us to learn skills like tailoring which will help us start our own businesses.”
Deepika (name changed), another transgender, said, “I heard from my friends that we would be provided homes near Bannerghatta Road. But recently they informed us that the plan has been cancelled. These government shelter homes will provide us basic facilities and security.”
Though shelter homes are a good plan according to transgenders, not all are fully convinced.
Another transgender Priyanka (name changed), who stays with Deepika, said: “I don’t know how safe these homes would be. Every day we live in fear. These homes should make us feel safe.”
Complaining about the government’s promises, she said, “They have promised us a lot of things including individual homes outside the city but none of us has got them.”
Agreeing with her, Deepika said, “When more than 10 transgenders stay together, there will be problems. Also, we are people who keep moving from one place to another in search of job and safety. So before going ahead, the authorities should consider all of this.”
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, passed by the Lok Sabha on January 13, 2020, states that no person or establishment should be discriminated against the “right to reside, purchase, rent, or otherwise occupy any property.”
BBMP assistant commissioner (welfare) Somappa Kadakol said the process of constructing shelter homes has been started and is expected to be completed soon.
“First, we will construct one home in the Majestic area as we have confirmed a plot there. Depending on the number of transgenders and the usage of the homes, we will increase the number of shelters,” he added.
He explained that facilities like water supply, toilets and beds will be provided free of cost. Each shelter can accommodate about 15 people.
The founder of Dear India Ministries, an NGO for transgenders said, “Shelter homes are not successful because these people do not stay in a place for a long time. Individual homes are better for them to stay. They lack safety and security and are considered only as sex workers. The government should look into all these basic amenities for their survival.”
About how rehabilitation centres should transform and give utmost support to transgenders, the founder of the NGO added, “The centres should teach them every basic thing. Most of them run away from these centres because of their inability to adapt to the new surroundings. These centres should encourage and guide them to do things they are good at and give confidence to them.”
According to a media report the Centre has a proposal to open shelter homes for transgenders in order to address their concerns around the lack of shelter homes for people from their community. The project will be run on a pilot basis for at least a year and later be carried out in three to five states.