Kerala Transgenders to Be Recognised on Voter Cards, is it Enough?

The Election Commission is set to recognise transgender people in the voting role.

2 min read
Representational image of a transgender person at a rally in Mumbai. (Photo: Reuters)

The year 2016 is the first time that the Kerala Assembly elections will officially recognize transgender people.

The General office at the office of Kerala’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has said that the department was in the process of making this possible.

We will introduce ‘TG’ (transgender) or ‘other’ category in the online forms and the third category will be on the electoral rolls as well.
U Gopakumar, General Section Officer, CEO’s Office

The process will be completed before the assembly elections.

The gazette notification will be issued on April 22, and the last date for filing nomination papers is April 29. Kerala goes to polls on May 16, and results will be declared on May 19.

Following a PIL by the National Legal Services Authority of India, the Supreme Court ruled in April 2015 that transgender people be recognized as such instead of automatically being classified as either male or female. In accordance with the ruling, official forms will have a third category for transgender people.

According to some estimates, transgender people number around 10,000 in Kerala but during the civic polls in November, only 82 transgender people had enrolled their names under the section of ‘other’ of voters’ list.

Thiruvananthapuram-based stage artist Vineeth, who is a transwoman, says she is happy with progress

Thiruvananthapuram-based stage artist Vineeth. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="">The News Minute</a>)
Thiruvananthapuram-based stage artist Vineeth. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
We are happy that things have changed a lot. The country has started to include us in their governing process. Now people have realized that we are excellent in our own ways. We are now recognized through our talents so that all can be a reason for inclusiveness.
Vineeth, a transgender woman

Vineeth would prefer to identify herself as female instead of “other”.

“The ‘O’ category is fine, but I think that rather than considering us a different group please give us the chance to opt what we want. I wanted to me recognized as a female, so I should be allowed to opt for that option,” she said.

Priya, a transgender woman from Ernakulam is also happy that she can cast her vote under her own identity.

It was painful that we are forced to be in the male category when we don’t want to be male. I also expect these changes in all sectors.
Priya, a transgender woman

However, Vineeth still feels that the government could do more for the transgender community in terms of creating and implementing welfare policies.

“How many people from the transgender community are working in the public sector in Kerala? Almost none. So (change in) voting is necessary, but include us in your system first,” she said.

(Haritha John is a journalist with The News Minute)

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