“All She Wanted Was a Dignified Life”: M Sangeetha’s Murder Leaves a Void in Transgender Community


“All She Wanted Was a Dignified Life”: M Sangeetha’s Murder Leaves a Void in Transgender Community

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The shocking murder of M Sangeetha, a transgender entrepreneur, in Coimbatore district has revealed the toxic transphobia prevalant in society and the vast distance we have to still cover to ensure equality for members of the transgender community.

The decomposed body of the 55-year-old transgender activist was found in her own apartment on Wednesday morning. Police found her body in a plastic drum that was used to store water, after they were informed of foul smell emanating from the house. The drum was filled with salt, a method used to hasten decomposition, Saibaba Kovil police told HuffPost India. Police stated that the body bore two stab injuries and a cut on the left side of the neck. There are calls for a swift and fair investigation into the case to deliver timely justice. Coimbatore City Police Commissioner Sumit Saran formed three special teams to investigate the murder. Deputy Commissioner G Stalin said no one had gone to Sangeetha’s house on Monday or Tuesday and that the motive for the murder was yet to be ascertained. The special teams questioned several people in the case, including employees of Covai Trans-Kitchen, a hotel Sangeetha had started, employing 12 transgender persons.

The incident has shocked the transgender community in Coimbatore. Sangeetha ran the  Covai Trans-Kitchen in the city. She was known as a “respected humanitarian” in Tamil Nadu’s transgender activist circles. Before starting the venture, Sangeetha was undertaking catering work and also did welfare work for the transgender community in the city. 

She started the mess just a month back to help transgender persons who had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many trans people in Coimbatore make a living by asking for alms or doing sex work due to the discrimination faced by the community. Social distancing norms across the country have deprived many transpersons of their means to earn a livelihood. 

“She was a close friend. The last I spoke to her was two days ago. She had received support from an angel donor and was planning to distribute the donation,” Subhiksha, Joint Secretary of South Indian Transgender Federation told HuffPost India.

Grace Banu, a Tamil-Nadu based transgender activist took to Instagram to express her anger at the incident. She posed the question to the audience, “Why did she have to die when all she ever wanted was a dignified life?”


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The pandemic has hit the transgender community hard. Apart from the severe discrimination that the community already faces, more than thirty transgender people have been murdered in 2020. During the pandemic, their livelihoods have also been impacted because of the social distancing norms. All they seek is more humanity from the rest of us, but it seems, even that is scarce in supply.