Is there any special government order that prevents transgenders from travelling in Laides’ Special run by State Transport Corporations?
However, this was the exact reason cited by a TNSTC conductor when he recently asked an IAS aspirant from the transgender community, Swapna, to alight from the bus, insulting and abusing her in the process.
Swapna was meted out this treatment on January 18, when she boarded a special bus for women at the Therkuvasal bus stop here. But, Swapna was soon asked to alight by conductor Maheshwaran. “The conductor didn’t say anything when I boarded the bus. The minute he heard my voice when I asked him where the bus was headed, Maheshwaran pushed me down, saying that a transgender cannot travel in this bus,” Swapna said.
Insulted by the conductor in front of her IAS aspirant friends, Swapna immediately hailed an autorickshaw to the Periyar bus stand and questioned the conductor about his rude behaviour. “Instead of replying to me, Maheswaran started scolding me in vulgar language, insulting my gender. Then, he stated that the transport department had received a G.O., which prevented us from travelling in the government special bus for women,” Swapna recalled.
Not to be let down, Swapna filed a petition against Maheswaran in a booth at the Periyar bus stand here. Instead of initiating action against the conductor, the senior officials of the TNSTC allegedly told Swapna that the conductor had in fact, “behaved in a kind manner,” said Swapna, showing a copy of the letter. “Though the official said they were ‘aggrieved over the incident,’ they neither mentioned about the action taken against Maheswaran nor explained the G.O. he cited,” she alleged. Swapna then filed a petition under the Right to Information Act, seeking details about the particular G.O. The transport staff do not treat the third genders as normal citizens, Swapna said, recounting how 10 days ago, a drunkard misbehaved with her and snatched her gold chain.
“Though the conductor witnessed this incident, he didn’t do anything to prevent the man from harming me” she recalled.
Transgender Rights Organisation president R Jeeva sought the intervention of the District Collector to sensitise government employees on such issues. A TNSTC official, while expressing doubt over the existence of such a G.O, agreed that the department should create awareness on the rights of the third gender among the staff.