Hiring transgenders as security officers

7 December 2016

Puneet Garkhel, Partner, Forensic Services, PwC India


In a landmark development, the Government of Odisha has recently decided to recruit transgenders as jail wardens as per the directive of the Supreme Court , by giving them the same physical standards as prescribed for women candidates.

Having suffered discrimination and societal hatred for centuries in India, traditionally, transgenders have been delegated for menial occupations, often found drawing their source of income from begging, receiving alms, or serving at temples and places of worship. Often considered as outlaws, transgenders have not only faced rejection and ostracism, but also struggled to integrate with mainstream society, across communities and cultures.

Against such a history of alienation and social isolation, the Odisha government’s directive is clearly a step towards mainstreaming the transgender community by accepting them and treating them equally for employment opportunities, particularly as security officers.

Transgender category in Aadhaar Card

Transgender-aadhar-cardSample Aadhaar enrolment/correction form

Hiring transgenders as security officers

Physical security has always been a dynamic function in corporates. This function has been quick to adapt to societal changes, be it employment of physically challenged people for basic operations like control room monitoring and reception handling, or the use of mobile apps to provide security to their employees even when they are not on duty or on the office premises. The security function is quite suitable for providing stable mainstream jobs to transgender persons.

Why transgenders in the security function?

  • Typically, transgender persons are strong and well built.
  • They would essentially be required to provide protection to women and would generally meet the necessary physical security standards for qualified security officers.
  • If and when required, they can demonstrate the required levels of aggression.

Challenges envisaged

  • Acceptance by the transgender community: Considerable preparation is required to qualify for this job. Apart from security trainings, they also need to be prepared mentally to accept mainstream jobs.
  • Acceptance by employers and staff: Employees and the employer will have to be briefed and sensitised, and a buy-in would be required in advance.

Probable solutions
As this would be a cultural change in the functioning of the corporate set-up, the migration will have to be gradual. Initially, the transition will have to be tested as a pilot in small set-ups:

  1. Employing transgender persons in security control centres
  2. Employing them as fleet security officers (for company provided pickups and drops)
  3. Employing them in mailrooms or similar functions

    Gradually, when transgender persons and the company staff both get used to working with each other, they can be entrusted with the rest of the security functions.

Next steps
Some of the leading corporates will have to take the lead in employing transgender persons. They may have to obtain the necessary clearance from their management and check with their HR and legal departments about ways to onboard transgender people. But, all in all, if the central government has already taken a decision, corporates may not face major challenges while implementing this change at their end.
Many NGOs, such as Anam Prem, are working for the cause of transgender persons. They are more than willing to extend their support to such initiatives. Corporates will need to take their guidance in finalising the roles and processes to be followed.

Also, this is one of the ways in which the security function can give back to society. Although this issue may be debated, discussed and delayed, it is only a matter of time before transgender people are accepted in and provided with mainstream jobs. The physical security function can serve as the springboard for bringing about this path-breaking cultural change.

Purvesh Gada, Associate Director, Forensic Services, contributed to this blog post.


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