Fearing loss of claim on property, transgenders sidestep Aadhaar

Jan 31, 2014, 07:23 IST | Kartiki Nitin Lawate

Members of the community are wary of revealing their gender identity during enrolment, as this might impede their right to a share of ancestral property, since most succession laws recognise potential inheritors as male and female

“We are concerned that if we mention TG as our gender on Aadhaar, we will be denied our property rights i.e. inheritance from parents or other relatives. We are, anyway, not treated at par with siblings by our families.

Representation Pic

Many from the community changed their names when they moved to Pune; so the names on their ration cards would be different.

Though some of us had all the documents, we opted out of Aadhaar enrolment, out of apprehension,” said Pooja (name changed on request).

Her views are echoed by many. President of Samapathik Trust (a men’s sexual health organisation) Bindumadhav Khire pointed out, “Some transgender community members, who had the requisite documents did not go for Addhar enrolment, dreading the fact that they might not get their share of ancestral property.

Property rights are based on religion, and the laws use the words ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’. It’s hard to predict what might happen if a sibling goes to court, arguing that property is meant to be distributed among sons and daughters. We are seeking clarification on this, but unfortunately there is none.”

Khire added, “If a male has done castration in order to change his sex, then it is a question of whether the person’s gender at birth or the acquired one should be considered.”

“Some parents force their kids not to identify themselves as TG, fearing loss of face in society. The transgender people are scared of being cast out by their families on getting Aadhaar enrolment,” said Sani (name changed), another member of the transgender community.

Advocate Milind Pawar too said that identifying oneself as trans gender might pose difficulties, as family members may challenge the property claim in court.

At the same time, very few sex workers have received their Aadhaar cards for failing to submit documents. Even after a drive being carried out in the Budhwar Peth red-light area, to provide Aadhaar cards to sex workers, very few have these in their possession.

Tejaswi Sevekari, director of Saheli (a community-based group), said “It is very difficult to get Aadhaar cards for these women, as their documents are not always transparent, and they don’t have proper address proof. Out of the 3,500 sex workers here, only about 100 have got the cards. Women from Maharashtra get these cards, as their police verification is easier than for those coming in from outside the state.”

Failed initiative?

As part of the Maharashtra government’s initiative to extend welfare services to sex workers and TGs, an Aadhaar enrolment centre was opened at Budhwar Peth to this marginalised section of the population. This facility was set up at a Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) school in the heart of Budhwar Peth..

Authorities had earlier pointed that all women who would be able to produce their proof of identity and residence in the area will be enrolled. Tejaswi said, “We have opened a lot of bank accounts, but getting an Aadhaar card is very difficult.”

On condition of anonymity, an Aadhaar officer informed, “Identity proof and address proof is needed to get an Aadhaar card. If a person has neither of these, then a letter from a gazetted officer, stating that he knows the individual personally, can be considered as proof.”

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