Lok Sabha Election 2019

Braving insensitivity in a democratic society

Bid to bring more transpersons to polling booths

When Renju Renjimar tried to cast her vote during the 2004 general election, she wasn't prepared for the ordeal. She stood in the middle of abuses while the polling officers, amused at the presence of a transperson, made her run from one queue to another.

But today, the celebrity make-up artist and actor is a Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) ambassador, a trans icon sharing the dais with prominent socio-cultural figures in awareness campaigns.

‘‘Even today the situation is not very different, but we will have to brave the insensitivity for a better tomorrow. It is an attempt to spread the ‘my vote my pride’ message to maximum people and I want our community members to cast their votes with their heads held high,’’ she says.

Renju, who is a SVEEP icon of Ernakulam district, feels many community members are still not aware of their role in the process of democracy. ‘‘Electoral right is very important and there is no point in complaining or questioning without exercising it,’’ she says.

The general air of hostility has been keeping the trans community off polling stations, just like many other public platforms.

‘‘I was insulted at a polling station years back and I am sure many others must have faced the same humiliation. But it is also part of your journey towards acceptance and inclusion,’’ she says.

As per the latest data available, Thiruvananthapurm is the district with the highest volume of third gender voters, while the number remains a single digit figure in many other districts. Shyma S. Prabha, SVEEP trans icon in Thiruvananthapurm, says it is the result of a determined mission. ‘‘Many of the community members, who are otherwise active, have a tendency to stay away from elections. Casting your vote means revealing your identity and many of them are not ready for that.’’

In a bid to maximise the voting percentage of transpersons, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena had held a meeting with community representatives at an earlier stage. ‘‘We consider it a feat that over 100 persons enrolled their names since we launched the campaign. In the coming elections, the numbers will definitely go up,’’ says Shyama, who is also the coordinator of the State Transgender Cell.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 6:50:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/braving-insensitivity-in-a-democratic-society/article26741963.ece

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