A trans woman in India is joyous as her employer has offered to pay for ‘life-changing surgery’.
Prahasini Arumugam is a delivery analyst for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) India.
Starting in high school, she has since worked with the bank’s payment operation team for 11 years.
Arumugam told RBS she would leave the company to undergo surgery which requires one and a half months of recovery time.
Moreover, gender-reassignment surgery costs upwards of Rs 2 lakh ($2,800, €2,500) in India.
One of the first in India
But RBS urged her to stay and offered both paid leave and financial assistance to her, making the bank one of the first companies in India to offer trans-inclusive benefits.
This is a huge step for the country just months just days after 15,000 people pummelled the pavement for Mumbai Pride.
Prahasini told The Times of India: ‘I will require leave and more importantly financial assistance.
‘Such surgeries require 1.5 months of complete recovery, wherein I will not be able to go to the office or even work from home.
‘RBS India said they are reviewing the policies for transgender persons.’
Emotional as well as financial support for surgery
RBS India’s diversity officer Reeti Dubey started around the same time as Arumugam.
She said the company is also dedicated to emotional and financial support.
‘It’s the non-monetary aspect that is tricky and needs a lot of support to go through.
‘It’s a life change for anybody undergoing this. There can be a sense of fear and anxiety.’
‘Legal acceptance is far from social acceptance’
Gaysi Family is an online ‘safe space’ for LGBTI Desis (people from the South Asian Subcontinent).
Digital content editor Pooja Krishnakumar welcomed the change.
Speaking to Gay Star News, she said: ‘This is a welcome step in the support for the transgender community because financial assistance is needed.
‘Legal acceptance is far from social acceptance. Until social acceptance is reached in the workplace – where we spend so much of our lives – the trans community will just go from one issue to another issue.’
Nearly all trans Indians face harassment and discrimination, according to a survey.
Much of this can come from the struggle for acceptance from their families.
Prahasini said she needs to giver her family ‘some time’ to accept her.
But given that her name means ‘cheerful girl’, she should come out smiling.