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Bengal activist rues absence of transgender candidate

Posted on Mar 11 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, March 11 : More than 28,000 transgenders (TG) have been registered with the election office, but an activist Tuesday said he rued the lack of their representation among candidates in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha polls.

Two years ago, the Election Commission (EC) allowed enrolment of TG persons under "Others" gender in the electoral rolls. So far, the national total stands at 28,314, according to EC figures. They will be voting for the first time as "Others" in the general elections.

However, Ranjita Sinha, a TG and project director of the Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal, is disappointed.

"In West Bengal, there are about two lakh TG members, though the census puts it at only 500. Now there is the 'Others' category too. We hoped there would be a representative from our community... unfortunately, no one has bothered," Sinha, working for the community for over a decade, told IANS.

"No one talks to us during campaigning," Sinha said.

Sinha added that creating a separate category of gender on the electoral lists is not sufficient.

"Where is the infrastructure to support all this? There is no such category for passports or other documents. There are no separate hospital wards for the TG people. They have to go to male or the female ward."

"Bengal is lagging compared to states in the south that have welfare boards and all kinds of facilities," Sinha said.

The activist added all pleas with the state government have fallen on deaf ears. Moreover, the lack of information among government officials is a disadvantage, Sinha said.

"Many are not aware about the TG and many don't want to know. Many families prefer to keep any TG member out of public view. There should be sensitisation and awareness workshops for government officials so they can address issues in the remote corners of the state," Sinha said.

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