- Shanavi Ponnusamy applied four times as a cabin crew in national carrier Air India in a span of two years only to be told that there was no category for transwomen.
- She was unsuccessful in seeking for damages at the Supreme Court which prompted her to send a letter to the President to allow her to die in mercy killing.
- All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) had characterized the airline’s decision as discriminatory and inhuman and urged the company to reconsider.
A female transgender Indian asked the President permission to end her life after her dream job working in the government airline was denied due to her gender.
According to transgender news posted on Sputnik news agency February 16, Shanavi Ponnusamy was unsuccessful in seeking for damages at the court which prompted her to send a letter to the President to allow her to die in mercy killing.
Discriminatory and inhuman
Her controversial story caught national attention, prompting All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) to blame the government for her frustration.
The group had characterized the airline’s decision as discriminatory and inhuman and urged the company to reconsider.
“Here you have a bright young girl looking forward to live her life with dignity and you are denying her basic rights, forcing her to think of ending the life,” AIDWA General Secretary Annie Raja said.
Ponnusamy, born male and had undergone sex reassignment surgery, cleared the tests and underwent the required training for ground duty at Chennai Airport for the national carrier Air India, but her application was rejected.
Graduated with a degree in engineering, Ponnusamy worked as a customer support executive for the airline for a year. Upon her gender change surgery, she applied for the job four times in a span of two years.
After multiple attempts to contact Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India, she was told that she was not hired because the company did not have a category for transwomen per recruitment policy.
Additional details from The News Minute website revealed that in November last year, she filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the decision in denying her a post as a cabin crew member. The court gave Air India and the Civil Aviation Ministry four weeks to submit a response, but both institutions failed to do so even after three months.
Because the case was publicized, her other means of earning an income through modelling and acting in a web series dried up.
“It was supposed to be on December 10, 2017, but when I checked, it was pushed to January 4, 2018. And when I checked in January, it had been pushed to May,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because of some internal influence, but I was told I would have to pay Rs 50,000 for the next hearing. I am struggling to make ends meet here, where will I get that kind of money?”
She decried the government’s response on her situation.
“We are taught as children that we are Indians and this is our government. But right now, I feel like I am in a foreign country, where the government is making me plead for things I need for basic survival,” she said.
She did not pursue applying in other carriers, as private companies could not be expected to do better than the government.
“Shouldn’t the government be setting an example for others rather than having the same prejudice against transgender persons?” she continued. “I do not have family support and I do not have a family of my own. It is not about earning money to support them. My job is for me to live a life of dignity and self-respect. But even that seems too far out of my reach now.”