In Maharashtras first ever conclave for the transgender community to be held in Mumbai Thursday,a Memorandum of Transgender/Hijra Rights will be presented to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. Among a number of welfare measures sought by the marginalised community,is the immediate need of carrying out a census of transgenders,bringing about reservations for the community and special legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sex.
The conclave,being held in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),will be attended by Chavan. Over 1,500 members from the transgender community are likely to be present at the event. The decision to hold this conclave was taken months after the states recently revised Womens Policy included a chapter on transgenders and proposed the creation of a welfare board for them.
Chitra Gauri,a transgender working with NGO Sakhi Char Choughi,said the hijra/transgender communities have been excluded from effectively participating in social and cultural life,economy,politics and other decision-making processes. We have taken heavily from all public hearings that have taken place in India in favour of our community. Looking at our community as a backward class legally may have its advantages and disadvantages. Reservation is something which is desirable. Eventually,we want a welfare-oriented approach, said Chitra.
Laxmi Triptahi,a transgender activist,said,In Karnataka,the government has issued an order to implement a reservation quota for transgenders by including them in the 2A category of the Backward Class Commission. The Department of Social Welfare in Tamil Nadu passed a government order that strongly favours counselling as a means to deter families from disowning a transgender child. It also recommends counselling for children with behaviour changes in schools,for which teachers need to be specially trained, she said.
The memorandum highlights the lack of legal recognition of the gender identity/status of hijra/transgenders which often prevents transgenders in exercising their rights of marriage,child adoption,inheritance,wills and trusts,employment,and access to public and private health services,and access to and use of social welfare and health insurance schemes. They should have the legal right to be considered as the third sex, said Chitra.
* Protection of hijras and kothis in police custody
* Sensitisation of police personnel
* Comprehensive sex-education programmes in schools
* Vocational training centres should be established to give new job opportunities to transgenders
* Initiate a debate on whether being transgender should be classified as a gender identity disorder or whether it should be seen as a choice
* Include transgenders in the Indira Awas Yojna
* Free sex realignment surgery in select government hospitals