By Cake Staff:
There’s a lot of things transgender people can’t do in this country without being harassed or humiliated, and you can add “standing in an ATM queue” to that list now.
Shortly after it was announced that INR 500 and 1000 notes would cease to be legal tender, a 23-year-old trans woman named Khushi went to the nearest ATM. It took a mere 15 minutes for people in the queue to hurl their transphobia at her. The Hindustan Times quoted her saying “Men were passing loud comments at me and women were secretly giggling. There was a bunch of people who actually asked me to stand in a separate queue.”
Ritika, another trans woman, was sexually harassed while standing in line, and she received no help from the security staff on duty, who instead told her: “Madam hum kya kar sakte hain? Aap bane hi aise ho.” (Madam, what can I do? You’re made this way.)
On November 11, a few days after demonetisation came into effect, people at an ATM in Mayur Vihar Phase III had refused to allow a trans woman to stand in line with them. Angered by this obvious discrimination, she allegedly undressed. She was then taken to the police station, because nudity is unacceptable, but transphobia is just fine.
But these mortifying incidents should come as a surprise to no one.
Trans people in India have found ways to protect themselves from daily instances of harassment. As Khushi explained, she only goes into public spaces when there are fewer people around, and she is less likely to be harassed. But demonetisation has dissolved several of these protective barriers. Not only has it forced them away from safe spaces into queues with potential harassers, it has also affected the way many trans people fend for themselves, economically.
In an interview with Cake, members of the trans community in Delhi spoke about how many trans people do not have bank accounts, or earn their income from sex work. Drastically lower literacy levels among the transgender population in India has also made them particularly vulnerable in an economic crises such as this. This is when the individual’s very survival is threatened, and given the spate of deaths caused directly by demonetisation, we should be more concerned.