June is LGBT Pride month and several airlines such as Indigo, GoAir, SpiceJet and Air Asia India have uploaded ‘rainbow graphics’ on their social media to celebrate the LGBT community. Social media campaigns help in normalising and celebrating the existence of LGBT individuals who are an integral part of our society.
However, to book a flight in India, it is mandatory to mention your gender or a ‘Title’ which denotes the gender. None of the airlines in India provide ‘Transgender’ as an available gender option, nor do they provide gender-neutral Titles such as ‘Mx.’ This forces Transgender persons to book flight tickets using an incorrect gender option or an incorrect title which does not represent their true identity. This subjects transgender persons to additional problems during boarding procedures too.
Moreover, airlines do not hire transgender persons for cabin-crew jobs. India is the 3rd-largest civil aviation market in the world and most airlines only employ women. This is absurd; the responsibilities of a cabin-crew worker can be well executed by any individual, regardless of their gender identity.
Air India informed Shanavi Ponnusamy, a trans-woman, that they couldn’t offer her the cabin-crew job because their recruitment policy did not have the transgender category. Her case against Air India is currently pending in the Supreme Court. GoAir justified their practice of mainly hiring female individuals by explaining that ‘female’ persons, on an average, weigh less than ‘males’. Less weight on the flight means lesser fuel consumption. Lesser fuel consumption equals increased profits.
The Transgender (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 mentions that transgender persons should not be denied or unfairly treated with regard to the right to movement and right to employment. All airlines in India violate this Act.
In 2016, Indian Railways updated their booking form and added ‘Transgender’ as an available gender option. It is a shame that in 2020, airlines heavily invest in pink-washing during Pride month, without taking any affirmative steps to improve the lives of transgender persons.
Please sign this petition, encouraging all airlines to make their ticket booking forms inclusive of all genders.