With 6,630 voters in Uttar Pradesh enumerated as “Others,” the State has the highest number of third-gender voters. Andhra Pradesh comes second with 4,421 followed by Karnataka with 3,233.
(The Election Commission of India’s official website gives the number of “Other” voters in Karnataka as 8,453. However, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, clarified that it was an erroneous entry.)
Voters and candidates are being enumerated under “male,” “female” and “Others” categories since November 2009, when the commission decided to count the third gender separately as “Others.” Though elections held to the Assemblies since then have had voters registering and voting under this category, this is the first Lok Sabha election in which the transgender community has that choice. What is noteworthy is that Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have recorded more registrations than the 2,125 and 1,394, respectively, in the category during the Assembly elections in those States. The statistics put out by the commission show that 17 States and Union Territories do not have a single voter registered under the category, while four have fewer than 100.
Akkai Padmashali, a member of the Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, says not enough effort has been made to create awareness. Sowmya, a transgender candidate who had contested the Assembly election in Karnataka last year on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket, says that registering as voters is itself not an easy task .