After numerous years of struggle followed by ridicules and repudiation by the society, members of the transgender community were finally accepted to be registered as the third gender. However, after many rejections, several transgender people have only recently received their voter IDs and here’s what they shared.
When Anu, a transsexual woman was asked about what the expectations she had from the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections she said, “I want the government to hear us and work on it, instead of stereotyping all transgender people to the hijra community. There are indigenous transgender cultural communities in India and they need to consider each and every one of them.”
Speaking about the things the government has to pay attention she adds, “The government doesn’t organise any sensitisation programs. They must help trans*people with employment. There are no separate wards or gender neutral washrooms. When they listen to us and implement it, only then will there be a change.”
After a long wait and days of running from pillar to post with his documents Aditya MK, a transsexual male said, “Since I had to change my address from my native to Bengaluru, I had to run around with a lot of documents before I finally got my voter ID. I was super excited as this was the first time I voted for the Lok Sabha elections.
When asked about how important the right to vote meant to him Aditya said, “The right to vote for me is as important as any other citizen of the country because I am also a citizen irrespective of my gender preferences. I hope that the government improves the transgender rights and be more inclusive.” When enquired if Aditya registered himself under the third gender he said, “Though we are accepted as a third gender in our country, we cannot get a passport with it. I aim to travel outside the country and hence chose to register under the male category.”
Vijaya Kumari a transsexual woman experienced rejection several times and when she finally got the opportunity to vote she said, “I did go through a lot of difficulties but I am happy that the society is much more accepting and tolerant. Although, I was stared at when I stood in the queue to cast my vote, I am used to this by now so it didn’t really bother me.”
Deepika Balraj, a transsexual woman said, “I applied online and was rejected thrice because of my gender identity, so I went to the BBMP and I fought with them to get my voter ID and eventually I did. I am a citizen of India and I have all rights to cast my vote, even I am woman. I was nervous because of the discrimination I have faced in the past but that did not stop me from carrying out my duties as a citizen. We have to educate one another about the right to vote.
The government has come up with a very good initiative with the option of the third gender. However, I have only seen this change on the papers and not in the mindsets of the people around us. Till now, I have visited many hospitals and I’ve not found a specific transgender health care privilege, it might be in paper but not in reality.”...