‘The public should understand that we too are human beings and like any other, we too have basic rights’

One person has exercised her voting right in the State as a third gender in the recent MLC elections held in Nandyal. The other holds a double masters degree, in commerce and social work, and is an ardent advocate of basic rights for the third gender.

Both have now become symbols of success for members of their ilk.

“We ran a huge campaign in Warangal district for our voting rights. In the end, the local authorities issued voter ID cards to 140 transgenders in Warangal district. At the end of the day, the public should understand that we too are human beings and like any other, we too have basic rights,” a proud Laila told ‘The Hindu’.

Her friend Rachana Khan, who has two master degrees from Nagarjuna and Osmania Universities, is an Advocacy Officer for Pehchaan project, a five-year programme of Alliance India to reach out and spread awareness on HIV among high risk groups.

Laila manages an NGO, Modern Awareness Society in Warangal, dedicated to transgenders.

Both participated in a panel discussion on HIV here on Monday. “It’s important to be educated for empowerment. There’s a lot of work yet to be done to spread awareness on basic human rights among transgenders and authorities,” Laila gushes in flawless English.

Both are working to improve the lives of transgenders.

“Like in any other community, there are black sheep in our community too. But, we should also realise that providing education is the only way to empower and improve their lives,” Rachana maintains.

Laila pointed out that 14 of their community members in Warangal district have completed graduation and nine have qualified as lab technicians. “We can discharge our duties as efficiently as anyone else. It is just a matter of having the right skills,” she points out.

What are their future plans? “We both will continue to work for transgenders. WQe will lobby with authorities for equal rights and empower our members with education,” they say.

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