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After EC,UIDAI gives transgender identity a boost

The Election Commission was the first to do it,and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has followed the example — the transgenders of India are finally being recognised by its government.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi |
October 12, 2010 5:43:42 am

The Election Commission was the first to do it,and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has followed the example — the transgenders of India are finally being recognised by its government.

Enrolment forms of the UIDAI will have a third column — ‘T’,for Transgender — along with the ‘M’ and ‘F’ for Male and Female respectively,so that over a million eunuchs can register their unique identities.

The EC announced a similar decision on February 20 this year,and the Bihar Assembly elections beginning later this month have seen,for the first time,a separate column ‘O’ — for ‘Others’,meaning intersex and transsexuals — in voter enrolment and registration forms.

“It was a legitimate demand and we said let others follow our example. It is a good thing that the UIDAI is doing it. In the voter enrolment,the officials refused to register them as females because of their male voice so we decided to do this,” Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.

“There was a representation to (former CEC) Navin Chawla and we immediately decided to do it. It is an all India instruction but starts with Bihar in the upcoming elections.”

The representation was made by a 30-year-old Bareilly-based doctor,S E Huda,who approached both the EC and the UIDAI on behalf of the Syed Shah Farzand Ali Educational & Social Foundation of India,which has offices in Maharashtra,Madhya Pradesh,Gujarat,UP and Delhi,where they work with women,children and eunuchs.

At a conference on gender equality in 2009,Huda’s organisation decided to take up the issue with key government organisations so that transgender identity is recognised and correct statistics about them is made available.

In August,the UIDAI wrote to Dr Huda to say that the Authority had already provided for a third gender identity — that of ‘Transgenders’ — on its enrolment forms and databases. UIDAI’s Deputy Director General K Ganga said that for the Authority,Huda’s letter was an endorsement of its position — and a reassurance that the Authority was going in the right direction with regard to the marginalized community.

“I was the one who responded to Huda,” Ganga said. “We wrote to the President’s office,where Huda too had written,to tell them we could capture the gender but that would not be for statistical purposes. For us,it was an endorsement of our plans.”

In future,the UIDAI may also partner with groups and organizations that work with the transgender community,Ganga said.

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