The Supreme Court on Monday, 6 November, issued a notice to the Aviation Ministry as well as Air India, for denying a transgender candidate a cabin crew job on the basis of her gender.
Shanavi Ponnusamy, who before her sex change had worked with Sutherland and Air India customer support, was denied a job with the company despite doing well in her test because cabin crew vacancies are earmarked only for women, ANI reported.
According to Bar and Bench, Shanavi’s report stated that she had also attempted to take the matter up with the Office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but was not able to meet the Air India chairman and managing director (CMD).
When she finally got through to them, the Aviation Ministry reportedly told her that they didn’t have any category to ‘include’ her, reported Outlook.
In her petition, Shanavi also alleged that she was forced to sit under the female category. After hearing that the company had denied her the job because they didn’t have a category for transgender applicants, Shanavi seemed to make it a point to move the apex court to take up the issue of creating a third gender for jobs in the Aviation Ministry.
A part of her petition, as reported by Bar and Bench, read: “That the petitioner has learnt that she has not been able to make the cut on account of the fact that she is a transgender and the vacancies in the cabin crew are earmarked only for women.”
This isn’t an isolated case of members of the transgender community being denied employment on the basis of their gender. Even though it has been three years since the Supreme Court officially recognised transgender people as the ‘third gender’, the ruling hasn’t seemed to impact too many sectors.
In Shanavi’s petition, the need to break gender stereotypes was also detailed. A part of it read: “Transgender people are individuals of any age or sex whose appearance, personal characteristics, or behaviors differ from stereotypes about how men and women are ‘supposed’ to be. Transgender people have existed in every culture, race, and class since the story of human life has been recorded…”
Air India later responded to Shanavi’s petition, claiming that that she would be called in the future as and when they create a category for her, the Outlook report stated.