In a pioneering move, the Chennai Corporation opened the city’s first night shelter for transgenders in Chetpet last month. 

The shelter is a welfare-to-work initiative, a half-way house where transgenders who have trouble keeping a job and finding accommodation can stay temporarily, according to a report by The Hindu. Run by the NGO SIP Memorial Trust, the shelter already has residents up to its full capacity of 25, though there are plans to expand.

The tenants can receive vocational training and attend workshops during their time at the shelter so they can find jobs, become independent and move on. The main aim of the shelter is to help transgenders who have been abandoned by their families and communities, so that they can learn something and be self-sustaining.

A major issue that many in the transgender community face across the country is the lack of acceptance from their families. “I have not spoken to my parents in three years. I’m in touch with a few relatives, but even if I call my parents, they do not pick up,” the report quoted J Kalaivani, 32, one of the residents.

If they are forced to leave their homes, transgenders find it difficult to get an accommodation for rent, more than the people in any other community. And that's when night shelters like these prove immensely helpful. “This home is very useful for us - it is comfortable, the neighbours are social, and the locality is good. There should be more such homes across the state,” said Sumithra.

The shelter, though the first for transgenders, is one of 47 run by the Corporation in the city for various groups of people.