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India General Elections 2024: Transgender voters demand to be counted

Updated on: 21 May,2024 07:15 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma |

Facing discrimination and challenges, trans voters seek better opportunities and support from government

India General Elections 2024: Transgender voters demand to be counted

Transgender community after voting in Nalasopara. Pic/Hanif Patel

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India General Elections 2024: Transgender voters demand to be counted

A handful of transgenders residing in Nalasopara under the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency participated in the electoral process for the first time on Monday.
mid-day spoke to a few of them who demanded a better lifestyle from the state and Central governments.

 “We have voted for the first time as we did not have proper documents in the past. But an NGO helped us obtain valid documents, including Aadhaar Cards, PAN cards, voter ID cards, etc.,” transgender Aliya Pawar said.

A total of 225 out of 21,48,514 voters belong to the third gender in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency, according to government data. However, not all of them turned up to cast their votes on Monday.

The third genders from different segments of the constituency got inked in Palghar district, where 10 candidates are contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
 “A few of them have gone to their villages, and others were not ready to vote despite having their voter IDs. But we six transgenders were very excited to get ink on our fingers,” Aliya said.

Demands of third gender

Most of the transgenders told mid-day that they become victims of social discrimination due to the sheer lack of awareness programs by the state and Central governments. They said most of them are well-educated and degree holders, yet they have to resort to begging. “We are not given the opportunity to work in the mainstream,” said Honey Patel, a 28-year-old transgender residing in the same neighbourhood as Pawar in Nalasopara East.

“I am a B.Com graduate and had been working at a call centre where I faced social discrimination and harassment. Though my boss would always encourage me to work, my colleagues would pass comments, and finally, I had to quit my job. I had been earning R18,000 per month,” Patel said.

“Now, I go to beg in a group of third gender because people did not allow me to continue the job in the mainstream,” Patel added.

“The school dropout rates in the trans community are very high. Why? Did the government ever try to address this issue? We have to face ragging and harassment at the school level. I know how I continued my studies despite all odds,” said Patel, adding, “I completed my B.Com from Mumbai University where I had to face harassment. People mocked me, but I continued my studies.”

“If we fall sick, doctors are hesitant to treat us as if we are aliens!” Patel added.

Meanwhile, Pawar said, “We have no proper house to live in. We have to struggle to find good accommodation because landlords and neighbours make weird faces after looking at us.”

“The government should generate employment opportunities for the third gender community, where many well-educated transgenders are forced to earn through begging,” Pawar said.

Pawar further added, “We are given only rice in the ration, whereas others get everything. Why this discrimination against the trans community? How will we survive? Who will look after us?”

“The Central government has made a separate compartment for specially-abled people to travel seamlessly. Why is there no separate seat reserved for the trans community in trains? Also, there is no dedicated washroom for the third community.”

“If the government has engaged and empowered us to vote, they must listen to our demands to give us a respectful life,” Pawar added.

No. of transgender voters in Palghar LS constituency

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