In a groundbreaking development, transwomen in Chennai are breaking barriers and driving change in society by becoming independent auto drivers. Sarala and Sandhiya, who embraced their identities as transwomen over two decades ago, have overcome societal contempt and are now navigating the bustling streets of Chennai with the support of their clientele.
Thanks to a substantial Rs 1 lakh subsidy provided by the state government, Sarala and Sandhiya were able to formalize their entry into the auto driver profession just a month ago. With pride, Sarala shares that she is now enlisted with two app-based cab services and drives her auto throughout the day, receiving respectful treatment and encouraging words from people. She expresses her happiness and contentment in her new role.
Sarala's journey began in Vellore before relocating to Chennai in her early 20s. Despite facing mockery and harassment from family and peers, she followed her instincts and transitioned into womanhood. Today, she earns around Rs 20,000 per month and utilizes the extra income to assist her peers and those in need.
Sandhiya, born in Chennai, has dedicated over two decades to social work and successfully convinced her mother to accept her identity as a transwoman. Although she currently faces limitations as an auto driver due to her social work commitments, she plans to become a full-time driver next month.
The acceptance and support from customers have been a significant shift in social attitudes towards the transgender community. Sarala and Sandhiya believe that fostering financial independence for transpersons through government initiatives would greatly improve lives and contribute to a broader social transformation.