Bengal activist rues absence of transgender candidates
More than 28,000 transgenders have been registered across India with the Election Commission, but a transgender activist Tuesday rued the lack of their representation among candidates in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha polls.
Two years ago, the Election Commission allowed enrolment of transgenders under the "Others" category in the electoral rolls.
So far, the national total stands at 28,314, according to Election Commission figures. They will be voting for the first time as "Others" in the general elections.
However, Ranjita Sinha, a transgender and project director of the Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal, is disappointed.
"In West Bengal, there are about two lakh transgenders, 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 transgender 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 transgenders and many don't want to know. Many families prefer to keep any transgender 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.
(Posted on 11-03-2014)
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