Editor’s NoteOpinion

Will transgenders get a voice in Indian Parliament?

I have always looked at transgenders as a marginalised community in our nation.

Few people fight for their rights to live like every other citizen of this country.

I firmly believe that their rights are on par with every other citizen of the nation. Because they belong to this nation, they contribute in their own little way to this nation to make it better and most importantly because they are so often ostracised from society because of being unique.

The transgenders are the real minorities in India in the true sense of the word minority. They are a religion to themselves.

Some of the atrocities and violation of human rights they face are disturbing. Moreover, the lack of empathy shown to them from people in general is sad.

The Indian Parliament in its evolution over the years have giving representations to men and women of the different castes and creeds.

But unfortunately, no transgender till today has ever received a party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections from any political party in the country, therefore, there has been no representation of someone from the transgender community in the Indian Parliament.

I wonder why?

Let me categorically state that the discrimination towards transgenders starts at the political party level, whether by omission or commission. Political parties choose not to give transgender candidates an opportunity to contest elections during Lok Sabha, some have done it for local Assembly sessions and India also saw its first transgender MLA Shabnam Mausi but no Parliamentarian yet.

Unarguably, they will prefer a man or a woman. Because too many politicians the issues of transgenders is of little or no consequence in the large political landscape of this nation.

Today, however, transgenders are no longer opting to be closeted or choosing to keep quiet for rights to live free in India. They are coming out, they are speaking up and making a mark for themselves in politics, business and social activism.

Sasha Ramamurthy, a LGBT activist told me her views that made complete sense, “As a community transgenders are contributing to the nation. They are proud citizens of this nation. They need a voice of reason in the Indian parliament not only to raise issues of transgenders but the entire nation also. It is important for political parties to include the intelligence of transgenders in shaping the future of India because we care about India just as every Indian. We also want to do our bit in serving our nation.”

According to the Census 2011, the transgender population was 4.88 lakhs across different state in India.

The figure will now in 2019 be marginally higher from 2011. Raising a pertinent question on whether it is time for the transgenders to get a voice in the Indian Parliament.

Sheetal Nayak, a social transgender rights activist, who has spent early years of her childhood in Goa and now is living and working in Pondicherry, told me, “It was time for political parties to recognise transgenders as part of the Indian political system by having confidence in transgender to work for their constituency, state and nation both at a local Assembly level and at a Parliamentary level. It is important for the transgender community to have a voice at the biggest temple of democracy, so that the people of this nation respect our views which is also driven in the interest of the growth of the nation and not only about rights of our community.”

There have been many transgenders that have proved themselves in today’s society to be equally competent to men and women in different fields. And media has written about them:

India’s first transgender lawyer: Sathyasri Sharmila

India’s first transgender judge: Joyita Mondal

India’s first transgender police officer: Prithika Yashini

India’s first transgender college principal: Manabi Bandopadhyay

India’s first transgender who became an MLA: Shabnam Mausi

India’s first transgender soldier: Shabi

Maybe in 2019, it may be the first time a political party might decide to give a transgender as opportunity to contest the Lok Sabha Elections and be a voice in Parliament.

There is news coming in today that National General Secretary of the Mahila Congress Apsara Reddy has filed her nomination with the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections from Tamil Nadu, in a hope that Congress will be the first political party to offer a transgender candidate a chance to contest for a Parliamentary seat through the Lok Sabha.

Whether that becomes a reality will be known shortly.

Or will transgenders have to wait for 2024 for a chance to even contest in a Lok Sabha election and be a voice in Parliament.


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IE Team

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