On the sunny morning of last Friday (March 10), a number of transgender people, clad in vibrant attire and carrying curriculum vitae (CV) in their hands, were seen walking towards The Lalit for an interview.
Although a bit nervous about the selection process at the ‘Trans Empowerment Mela 2023’, they tried to overcome anxiety by engrossing themselves in talks and trying to make themselves comfortable with the surroundings.
Hundreds of transgender community members had descended at the hotel in central Delhi to get in touch with recruiters at the Mela which was held to make the transgender community self-dependent.
“It is a great initiative and the best opportunity for me as I have been dealing with many problems since the day I identified myself as a trans woman,” said Neerja, a 26-year-old transgender woman who are among those battling trans-phobia and are fighting to overcome odds to claim their space.
“I have been physically, mentally and financially abused by my family members but I never lost hope that one day I will find acceptance, love, and equality and reclaim my honour. For me finding a job is very important to sustain and meet my daily expenses. I am from Nainital. When I heard about this first kind of ‘Trans Empowerment Mela’ that was going to be hosted, I found it as an opportunity that I wanted to grab.”
Neerja is aware that competition for jobs is stiff and there is no guarantee that she will be recruited. But she is taking this experience as a positive development in her life.
“There are many candidates in queue who may be much more talented and skilful than me but I am not losing confidence. I can only think about the positive side of the situation in front me and the rest is up to fate. There is a need for our inclusion in every public sphere and the government has to take steps through which we are included,” says Neerja.
During the recruitment drive, more than 500 transgender community members submitted their resumes. As many as 100 people were shortlisted, out of which 30 found jobs. Each of the companies also shortlisted 10-15 candidates at the end of the job fair and their hiring will take place soon.
The event was organised by voluntary organisations Tweet Foundation and InHarmony in association with National Institute of Social Defence and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It aimed at making trans persons financially independent besides promoting the idea of inclusive workspaces and countering transphobia.
According to the organisers, the initiative also seeks to break barriers of stereotypical perceptions, stigma and discrimination against the transgender community.
Thirty renowned companies and organisations with diverse profiles like Tata Steel, Godrej Properties, Accenture, Amex (American Express) and EY Foundation were present at the event to recruit trans persons in their companies after a proper selection process. Some of the other companies included Publicis Sapient and Mahindra Logistics.
Most of the companies at the event were vocal about recruiting members of the transgender community and said the companies are ready to embrace diversity and strengthen the transgender community.
They want to bring into fold those who feel alienated and neglected by society and are subjected to different kinds of violations whether physical or sexual.
The recruiters interacted with a diverse mix of trans candidates from across different states and screened them to know their interests and talents.
The event started with an introduction to the programme followed by panel discussions by renowned people highlighting the importance of inclusion of the trans people in the workplace and providing better platforms full of equality and respect.
Dipawati, a job aspirant from Kolkata, said, “I have come here to get a job but I cannot say I am going to be selected for the next [selection] procedures which will be carried out later.”
Dipawati’s experience of employment in the past was unsavoury. She faced challenges due to her sexual identity.
“I have worked as a freelancer and also worked at Vedantu (engineering services company) as a full-time employee during 2020-2021. But I left Vedantu after facing challenges due to my sexual identity. I had no option but to leave the place. Again, I am working as a freelancer for an online tutorial. I came to Delhi only for the job fair and I am impressed by the whole event.”
Dipawati added, “This kind of job fair should happen every time and not only when a week, a month or a day is observed for the rights of trans community or on the initiative of a company claiming that we are LGBTQIA supporters. I am looking forward to more such events in future where people from my community find space and are treated with love and respect.”
She said that transgender people don’t need patronising but want to live the way they want to.
“As trans people, we face many hurdles and are forced to live a life which we do not want or are not willing to be in. We do not want acceptance from society and validation. It is just that we want people to let us live our lives according to ourselves and not interfere in any of our spheres,” Dipawati said further.
Gautam RC, the co-founder of Tweet Foundation and organiser of the event, said, “Hosting such an event was a dream that has come true because there are many skilful and talented people from the transgender community who are also graduates but haven’t found a job or are struggling to find one. There are those who do not have any specific skill or degree.”
Gautam added that many people from the transgender community have blue-collar jobs and lack financial stability.
“Some of them are into blue-collar jobs and lack financial stability. As a part of an organisation, we have been asked about job opportunities several times by many people from the community. So, we realised that there is a need for a job fair or giving platform to the community people because there are many people from the community who are looking for spaces in the corporate sector to become financially stable. And we eventually came up with a plan and proper structure to host this event.”