Transgenders back on track, harass train commuters

CHENNAI: Forty-year-old Fathima was in tears by the time she alighted at Egmore railway station on Friday. She had been abused and harassed by two transgenders on a suburban train when she did not give in to their demands for money. The other passengers, frightened at seeing Fathima abused, had their money ready for the transgenders even before they were approached by them.

When Fathima resisted a transgender’s entreaties, she abused her. When she retaliated, two of the transgenders associates joined in, and the three of them attacked Fathima, pulling at her sari and cursing her. None of the other passengers on the train came to Fathima’s rescue.

“I did not have my purse with me, and I am new to this place,” claimed Fathima. “I reported the matter to the railway police at Egmore station, but they did nothing,” she said.

Passengers claim they undergo such harrowing experiences every day. “With no raids having been conducted in the recent past, transgenders have been taking passengers for a ride,” alleged retired bank employee Bhagya. She said passengers readily give in to their demands for fear of being cursed by them. They take nothing less than Rs 5, she added.

Even male passengers are not spared. “When we refuse to give them money, they flash their private parts at us,” complained Manoharan, another train commuter. Some people hesitate to give alms to people who are physically challenged, but fear drives them to give transgenders money without a second thought, he said.

Government railway police DSP V Ponramu said that they have been conducting regular raids and have even summoned the transgenders to a meeting to sensitise them. “We have instructed them to steer clear of passengers, and allow them a trouble-free ride,” he said. Those found harassing passengers would be booked and penalised, he added.

Railway officials suggest that the state provide transgenders with jobs to prevent them from extorting members of the public.