Rough ride for this transgender, a painful daily journey in Delhi Metro

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Nirvair Kaur

Nirvair Kaur / Facebook

The daily commute fills Nirvair Kaur with dread. Ever since she chose to transition from her biological male identity to the female she aspires to be, her everyday ride on Delhi Metro has become a battle with lascivious men in the general coaches and reproachful women in the ladies’ coaches. She hoped for some support from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, but the company’s reaction to her grievances has left her more disillusioned.

After suffering months of men in general coaches passing lewd remarks, even asking her how much “she charged”, obviously stereotyping every one of her ilk as soliciting on the go, and being pushed to the periphery in the women’s coach, Kaur wrote to DMRC on February 21 and April 27 about her bitter experiences on Delhi Metro trains, starting right at the station entrance when she faced confusion over whether she should be frisked by security personnel in the men’s or the women’s queues.

The response, when it reached her, has made her realize how, while couched in terms that seem sympathetic to her cause, DMRC’s words prove it has no clear policy on meeting its responsibilities towards transgender passengers. Starting on a friendly tone, the letter stresses that DMRC is sensitive to the needs of all sections of passengers, but regrets “as of now there are no directives to DMRC from the government” on extending equal rights to the transgender community in all spheres of life as emphasized by the Supreme Court in 2014.

The letter then takes a narrower view, considering the problem faced by Kaur only as an individual complaint and advises, “You may choose the male or female queue depending on your self-identified gender at the frisking points provided your clothing is commensurate with your self-identified gender. You would be permitted to occupy seats reserved for senior citizens and differently abled persons in coaches. You will be permitted to use toilet facilities provided for differently abled persons at the Metro stations.”

Kaur is instructed to carry a photo identity card while availing these concessions. “Does DMRC expect me to identify myself as a transgender to people in seats reserved for disabled people and senior citizens?” Kaur fumed. “Or each time that I have to use the toilet facilities in the stations?” She also wondered what good would come out of extending these concessions only on one specific route: her daily commute from Dwarka Mor to Nehru Place.

“DMRC’s offer reflects how little is understood about the social problems that a transgender person faces,” said Nirvair Kaur, who works with Transgender Welfare Equity and Empowerment Trust (TWEET Foundation). “I wrote to DMRC as regular user of Delhi in the hope that DMRC would make commuting harassment-free for all of us, but its response has left me agitated.” Kaur threatened to go to court to “secure our rightful space on public transport”.

en contacted for DMRC’s response, a spokesperson said, “DMRC is making all efforts to make commuting in Delhi Metro pleasant for all sections of society. We will follow the directives issued by the government of India in this matter and sensitise our staff. In case of any harassment or discrimination on the Delhi Metro premises, one can contact DMRC staff or 155730 helpline and the CISF helpline at 011-22185555.”


Nirvair Kaur
Advocacy Officer, Author at |

Simply Transgender, and Human too... Same like you...

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