Special Correspondent

There is ambiguity in the legal status for transgenders

Plea to provide them education and job opportunities

Bangalore: Christy Raj has the right to vote because he is above the voting age at 22. But he does not have a voter identity card simply because he, as a female-to-male transgender, does not want his identity stamped there as a “male”.

Mr. Raj, one of the speakers at a seminar on “Transgender issues in India”, organised by the NGO Aneka here on Monday, said that not having undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) he could not produce a doctor’s certificate authenticating his gender as male. “The surgery costs more than Rs. 45 lakh and is beyond someone like from the lower middle-class,” he said.

Tista Das from Kolkata, a male-to-female transgender, underlined the fact that the system is still full of ambiguities on the legal status for transgenders. As someone who has undergone the surgery, Ms. Das has the status of “female” in some documents, but her birth certificates still recognises her as “male”. Her community, she said, is the “marginalised within the marginalised” community of women since they face stigma as “deviant”.

Elavarthy Manohar of Aneka said that the government should take responsibility for the transgender community and provide them education and job opportunities.

Hijras face violence even within their own community because they are completely dependent on that hierarchical structure for livelihood and emotional support, he added.

“The government needs to invest only a fraction of what they are giving out to religious institutions to support the community,” he said.

Muthukumar Natesan from Kumbhakonam said that the transgender community faces “double stigmatisation” because all the discussions that happen on it are centred around the sexuality and their vulnerability to HIV.

Anindya Hajra from Mumbai talked about the complex relationship between the transgender community and the feminist movement.