Kolkata’s transgender community marks 10 years of landmark verdict, calls for greater dignity

Days have their significance and we would like to have April 15 formally included in the calendar as National Transgender Day, a campaigner for the community said

Published - April 15, 2024 07:16 pm IST - Kolkata

Members of the transgender community celebrate the passage of a bill seeking equal rights for transgenders in the country’s upper house, in Bhubaneswar, India.

Members of the transgender community celebrate the passage of a bill seeking equal rights for transgenders in the country’s upper house, in Bhubaneswar, India. | Photo Credit: AP

The transgender community in Kolkata on April 15 marked the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court verdict that provided legal recognition to members of the community, and resolved to continue their efforts to have April 15 recognised as the National Transgender Day.

“People celebrate birth anniversaries, they celebrate Women’s Day, Children’s Day, they celebrate certain days as Durga Puja. So, days have their significance and we would like to have April 15 formally included in the calendar as National Transgender Day. You can say this is our Independence Day, the day we were reborn and when we got recognition as citizens of this country,” Ranjita Sinha, director of the Association of Transgender/Hijra, and the face of the community in Kolkata, told The Hindu.

It was on this day in 2014 that the Supreme Court issued a verdict — popularly known as the ‘NALSA verdict’ (the acronym standing for National Legal Services Authority) — declaring transgender people as the third gender and making fundamental rights under the Constitution equally applicable to them.

Opinion | The Supreme Court trans-formed

On April 15, members of the community organised an event that included honouring the people who worked for the betterment of the community (including their own members who fought through difficulties to achieve professional success), and a round table discussion on getting them their rights.

“Even though we enjoy fundamental rights, you see us begging on the streets. In West Bengal, particularly, there is no census yet on the community, and violence against them is only on the rise. At the event, we focused on organising an awareness-raising programme on legal support and services for transgender individuals. The participants included key stakeholders, including the District Legal Services Authority,” Ms. Sinha said.

“Today, we can vote, today, we have equal rights, but what we lack is the implementation of equal rights, particularly in West Bengal. There is a development board but there is lot of politics, as a result there is no development. For the transgender community, there is still no dignity, no source of living, no place in higher education, no scholarship, no pension. As a result, you keep on seeing them begging. In the events that we had today, we get to highlight these serious issues,” Ms. Sinha said.

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