India metro to give transgender staff housing after discrimination row

A metro service in India has stepped in to provide accommodation for 23 transgender women it employed, after they could not find permanent housing.

Nine transgender women employed with the Cochin metro had quit as they said no-one was willing to rent to them.

A senior spokesperson for Cochin Metro told the BBC that they had decided to provide hostel accommodation and transport at a nominal fee.

It is the first government agency to allot roles for transgender people.

Cochin Metro’s Reshmi CR told the BBC that the company had asked the nine women who resigned to reconsider their decision, giving them until 5 July to decide.

If they decided not to rejoin, she said that their positions would be filled by other members of the transgender community.

The plight of the employees touched a chord in India, especially given that Cochin Metro employed them in the hope that it would pave the way for other firms to begin employing transgender people.

A video featuring all 23, in which they told people “not to pity them”, was viewed more than one million times on social media.

The resignations came less than two weeks after the service was inaugurated.

Amritha, one of the transgender women working with the metro, earlier described the struggle to get accommodation to BBC Tamil’s Sivakumar Ulaganathan.

”Many of us have stayed in private lodges and hotels so far, where we had to pay around 600 rupees [£7; $9] a day. That was unaffordable for us, given we only make around 9,000 rupees [£108; $139] every month,” she said.

The new employees were ticket agents and cleaning staff.