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Considering Covid-19 relief to trans persons: Tamil Nadu govt in Madras HC

This comes in the backdrop of a PIL moved by transgender activist Grace Banu who highlighted that most members of her community do not possess a ration card, which needs to be carried to the PDS shops to avail the government aid.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: May 21, 2021 3:28:17 pm
Madras High CourtAfter recording the observation, the court adjourned the plea until Monday.

The Tamil Nadu Government on Thursday informed the Madras High Court they are considering a plea seeking extension of Covid-19 cash relief aid to all the transgender persons.

Advocate general R Shanmugasundaram made the submission before the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

After recording the observation, the court adjourned the plea until Monday.

This comes in the backdrop of a PIL moved by transgender activist Grace Banu who highlighted that most members of her community do not possess a ration card, which needs to be carried to the PDS shops to avail the government aid.

Banu further submitted that due to the outbreak of the pandemic, transgender persons are finding it difficult to make ends meet. The petitioner claimed that there are more than 50,000 transgender persons in the state but the Social Welfare Department claims that only 11,449 transgenders have been identified in a survey they conducted till 2014 and out of the said survey only 2,541 have been provided a ration card.

On behalf of the State’s Cooperation, Food, and Consumer Protection Department, the government has announced a scheme to provide Covid-19 cash relief of Rs 4,000 to all the rice-ration-cardholders. The first installment of Rs 2,000 is being provided this month.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Banu said transgender persons may not have a ration card due to hurdles faced by them when they change their name and gender identity. She added that a separate vaccination drive should be conducted for transgender persons by assisting them to register online and provide special vaccination slots in the community health centres.

“No steps have been taken by the state to issue guidelines or awareness programmes to provide confidence among the transgender persons to take the vaccination. This includes HIV+ persons who are vulnerable to the virus. There is fear in the minds of transgender persons who are going through hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery whether to take the Covid-19 vaccination. A dedicated helpline number should be set up to clarify their doubts and provide awareness is our plea,” she said.

Banu added that they are already facing discrimination in medical facilities, hospitals and they are unable to seek any medical help due to the lack of government identity proofs. She claimed that many among the transgender community don’t have access to the internet and it will be difficult for them to register online for vaccination.

“So many transgender persons don’t have government ID cards. Last year, when many of them tried to apply for the ID Card, the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Department informed them that everything was now online on the orders of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. They said only the Centre can issue the ID cards henceforth. In the National Portal for Transgender Persons there are only two languages – English and Hindi, how can people who don’t know these two languages can apply? The central government hasn’t provided proper guidelines to the state government. We ask them to allow the state government to continue issuing the state government ID cards which are needed as proof to claim the government benefits,” she added.

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