Rights for transgenders: Are titles like 'Tgr', 'Ki' good enough?

The MP government's initiative comes after the Supreme Court of India's landmark judgement of April 15, 2014 based on two petitions that sought to provide equal rights to the third sex.

Debobrat Ghose August 06, 2014 08:57:54 IST
Rights for transgenders: Are titles like 'Tgr', 'Ki' good enough?

New Delhi: Kamla Jaan was elected India's first eunuch mayor in Katni, Madhya Pradesh in 1999, but was asked to step down in 2002 after a court's order. The judge ruled that an eunuch was in fact 'a man' and had no right to occupy a seat reserved for women. Similarly in 2009, her namesake Kamala Kinnar became the mayor of Sagar, again in MP. But was again asked by a court to vacate the position despite getting elected, for the same reason.

However, in an irony of sorts, five years after the last incidence, the MP government has now approached the Centre to give official recognition to transgenders, suggesting that this category be addressed by adding 'Tgr' before their names on the lines of Mr, Mrs and Ms in English and 'Ki' (Kinnar) on the lines of 'Shri, Shrimati and Sushri' in Hindi. Incidentally, India's first transgender MLA, Shabnam Mausi too was elected in Madhya Pradesh, from Sohagpur constituency (1998-2003).

Rights for transgenders Are titles like Tgr Ki good enough

AFP.

The MP government's initiative comes after the Supreme Court of India's landmark judgement of April 15, 2014 based on two petitions that sought to provide equal rights to the third sex.

It also said that the transgender group should be treated at par with male and female, a paradigm shift in the way the society has regarded them for ages. The attempt is to integrate them with the mainstream. Last year, a committee formed under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment urged the states to implement its recommendations within a period of six months.

"It is a positive move of the MP government and now it needs to be seen if other states are willing to implement the recommendations of the committee. There is hardly any vocational or job opportunity for transgenders and as a result they end up begging or working in sex trade, which is pathetic," said Ketaki Ranade, assistant professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

According to a newspaper report, secretary of the Social Justice department in Madhya Pradesh, VK Batham said the state government had been facing problem in identifying the large number of persons belonging to transgender category.
The transgenders are visibly upbeat with the news that they may get a new identity in the form of recognition in various government records like voters' list and welfare schemes.

"Despite getting elected as a mayor, I faced discrimination since I am an eunuch. This will be a positive step if the MP government implements it. But the government should also see that transgenders get benefits of welfare schemes meant for the poor, alongwith employment opportunities. Otherwise, this tag will be meaningless," said Kamla Jaan.

"Now, while filling up any form we wont have to feel embarrassed if we don't opt for Shri or Smt. We can opt for Ki," said Saroj Rani, a Delhi-based eunuch.

Living a decent life like other citizens of this country has never been easy for this category. Centuries of social, economic, religious and political discrimination and deprivation, and a strong social stigma against them pushed eunuchs/ hijras/ kinnars/ transgenders into begging, dancing after child birth , sex trade, drug peddling and crime. The third sex got its voting rights in 1994. Some of the states including Madhya Pradesh have started working out modalities for implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

"It is a good step towards recognition of the third gender as transgenders will now get an option. But as they belong to economically backward class of the society, the government must create educational and employment opportunities to bring equality," said Vivek Anand, CEO of the Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO working for the rights of the LGBT community.

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