Govt to set up board for transgenders

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By Alok KN Mishra

NEW DELHI: In what could transform the challenging lives of the city’s transgenders, the Aam Aadmi Party government has started the process to establish the Transgender Welfare Board. Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam wrote to the social welfare department on Wednesday and asked it to form a committee to conduct a comprehensive study on the condition of the transgenders in the capital. Currently, with transgender welfare being carried out by different social organisation, information on their socio-economic condition is not departmentalised.

“The committee is likely to be set up within a week and will include two representatives of the transgenders, officials from social welfare department and representatives from organisations working at different levels for the welfare of the transgenders,” Gautam said on Thursday. “The AAP government is sensitive to the rights of the people living on the margins of society. We want not only to protect the human and constitutional rights of the transgenders, but also give them a better life.”

The panel will collate information about transgenders’ education, employment, health schemes and the status of their constitutional rights. “The Transgender Welfare Board will incorporate the recommendations of the committee in its report. The government will then initiate schemes for their development and give them equality in society,” Gautam said, adding that the board will be set up in six months’ time.

While information on the social-economic status of transgenders is lacking, an NGO found after conducting a survey that most of them were deprived of mainstream employment, forcing them to resort to begging and soliciting money from households on celebratory occasions. Most of them remained ill-educated because going to school or college meant exposure to discrimination and bullying. As Yashwinder Singh, manager of Humsafar Trust, an organisation working on transgenders’ issues, revealed, “Most transgenders drop out soon after their physical differences start becoming visible.”

In 2014, the Supreme Court had, for the first time, identified transgender people as “third gender”, affirming their fundamental rights and giving them the right to self-identification as male, female or third gender. NGOs, however, claim the transgenders continue to be trapped in an identity crisis. Most of them do not have even basic identity cards, say NGOs.

While admitting that most states do not have a transgender welfare board, Singh admitted that the 2011 census did not have a separate column for such people and population figures, therefore, are unavailable. In Delhi, the community has been regularly making its demands known. These include widening the definition of transgender people to include more sub-groups, stringent punishment for violence against transgenders and provision of reservation in employment.
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