Voting Rights for Transgenders  

Voting is not a culpability, it is a responsibility and right to choose the right representative. In this world, our society may discriminate us based on our sex, cast, class, race and religion but we expect that government would never categorize the citizens on the basis of these socially constructed divisions, in the eyes of law every citizen is equal to other.

Whenever we raise an issue of gender inequality, we do not count transgenders along with women and men. To make women equal to men, we forget that there is another gender exists with us, belongs to the same human race. Even if you google about ‘gender inequality’, it defines that ‘gender inequality’ is an idea that men and women aren’t equal. It has come to light that women are getting support by women as well as men, which is a good progress for the society. Everybody is into feminism, is willing to empower only women. It is also what society likes to call ‘Equal-ism’ over the last few years, though ‘Equal-ism’ has become shorthand for ‘Feminism’, and ‘Feminism’ has greatly come to donate by every citizen. The term gender inequality is generally used to refer male prejudice against women; it doesn’t talk about the transgenders. Transgenders who cannot afford to dream of living a luxurious life like us as they are not even given the basic fundamental rights yet. If we go person to person and ask them what they think about transgenders and their opinions on discrimination with transgenders, probably everyone pretends and seems to be sympathetic about it. But if we do a survey that how many transgenders are working in public sector, how many of them are accepted to live in common societies, or if one is asked to keep a transgender as domestic worker, then we will know where the transgenders stand. To bring change, voting is necessary, we got to include the transgenders into our system first.

In the year 2013, Pahal Welfare Society, a non-governmental organisation started a mentorship called Astitva and wished to take initiative in improving transgenders life. It takes a lot of courage to choose a road less travelled, and dedication to keep traveling on it. Pahal Welfare gives the opportunity to choose what it wants to not what the society expects to. Hence, it provides counselling, sensitizing, healthcare facilities and employment to transgenders as well as reduces discrimination, violence and humiliation against them.

Starting their journey by sensitizing the transgenders about AIDS made them came across the fact that they all are already aware of the AIDS, and how to take precautions of it. But, they had a long list of things undone and there Pahal started their actual journey. One of the basic fundamental rights of every citizen is voting, it is an advantage for people living in an independent country. The importance of voter ID card is not only voting, but it holds individual opinion and identity. You and I feel miserable, while we have career issues, compatibility, comfortability issues and what not, we can’t even imagine how much despondent state it is when they go through ‘Identity Crises.’ Every Transgender goes through identity crises, the survey says most of the transgender community get to feel about their gender at the age of 10-12, when they cannot decide what is their identity and when they finally could feel it, they didn’t get the courage to tell about it to the world because they know that the society won’t accept them. Pahal welfare Society has not even understood them, known them, recognize them, but also has given them the right to vote in the year of 2013, before the supreme court passed the judgement that ‘transgenders should also get their voter ID cards on the basis of third gender.’ Pahal did it without any legal documents. All the transgenders verified themselves, and with the help of Advocacy of election commission the project of making 190 voter ID cards of transgenders was successful.

While Supreme court was not even discussing upon the voting rights of Transgenders, the two executive managers of Pahal Welfare Society, Mr Pradeep Kumar and Ms Sarita Shukla slogged their aspiration to achievement and made it possible. After four meetings of advocacy with the Chief Election Officer of East Delhi, exact 190 voters ID cards were made of transgenders. Today, they are not only happy because they are eligible to vote, and included in the governing process since then, but also because they are introduced as transgenders till date and always.

While interacting with the transgenders who are benefitted by this huge initiative, one said, “Society doesn’t consider us as human beings, there are very limited people in our society who rend Hijras their home to live, those who agree demand more money as commission because lack of documents we can have an agreement of rent. Now, we can proudly show our identity card, and pay the rent exactly how much it cost for.”