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Kerala commissions socio-economic survey of transgenders

Posted on Aug 13 2014 | IANS

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 13 : Kerala's social justice department has commissioned an NGO to conduct a socio-economic and situational survey of transgenders, an official said Wednesday.

Sangama, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works for the rights of sexual minorities, will conduct the survey in 14 districts of the state.

"We will complete the survey in three months to help the social justice department for getting social entitlements, access to schemes, jobs and education for transgenders," Sangama board member A. Anil told reporters here Wednesday.

Incidentally, the Kerala government in January started the process for this, even before the Supreme Court verdict in April which directed according third gender status to the sexual minority.

"We are confident this exercise is not just to enrol numbers or to create estimates but to break the social barriers and provide a voice to the voiceless communities in Kerala," pointed out Rajesh U., a human rights activist and Sangama state programme manager for Kerala and Karnataka.

As part of the survey, the department will start a helpline. It will also hold consultation with community groups, representatives and experts to form a state policy on transgenders.

Sangama is already working in 10 districts of Kerala from 2010 by implementing Global Fund Pehchaan Project reaching out to MSMs (men having sex with men).

V.U. Surya, an artiste in a television comedy show and a transgender, said: "From childhood, I realised I was not accepted at home and society and had to run from pillar to post to avoid the stigma and discrimination to get a job or for using a public toilet or getting a ration and voter ID card."

"Then, I got my own vehicle. But, many transgenders and other sexual minorities are not rich to even afford basic needs. I hope this start by the social justice department will help the community get justice," Surya added.

Niranjan, a Malayali female-to-male (F2M) transgender, who migrated to Bangalore because of non-acceptance by conservative family, friends and neighbours 10 years back, said: "Now, I am happy to live like a man. I have even undergone a two-year process under expert doctors who performed an SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) on me so I could become a male."

Sheetal, a transgender from Thrissur, was forced to discontinue studies because of discrimination at school, said: "We were ragged, harassed and tortured at school and in buses. Now, we have started a Sexual Minorities Forum in Kerala and work with the community for social entitlements while addressing human rights violations."

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