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The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has announced a number of measures in an attempt to empower the transgender community in the state.
Hindustan Times reported that the government is extending the scholarship programme to the third gender and financial aid to the legally married trans couples.
States's Minister of Health and Social Welfare KK Shailaja on Tuesday, December 29, said that the Social Justice Department sanctioned ₹6 lakh for the purpose of providing a scholarship to the marginalised group in the current financial year. Reports mentioned that the scheme would cover trans students, studying from the seventh standard to colleges in the government-run and self-financing educational institutions.
"It is part of the drive to bring the marginalised and generally isolated transgender community into the mainstream of society," the minister said in a statement.
She further explained the process of implementing the initiative. Under the scheme, ₹1000 per month would be awarded each third gender student studying in Class 7 to Class 10 for a period of 10 months. The scholarship amount would amount to ₹1,500 per month for transgender students studying in higher secondary and ₹2,000 per month for those pursuing diploma, degree, professional and post-graduate courses for 10 months.
Taking into consideration the challenges and stereotypical prejudices faced by the community, Shailaja said that as an educationally backward group there was an urgent need for giving more care and compassion to the community members. Witnessing the hardships faced by such individuals on an everyday basis prompted the government to launch the scheme.
The government has also decided to extend ₹30,000 financial aid for trans couples who tie the know legally, in the current financial year. A total of ₹3 lakh has been sanctioned for this purpose.
"Through this, ₹30,000 each can be given to 10 trans couples," she said, adding that the scheme seeks to help the community build social life through relationships and marriages.
While specifying the process, the minister stated that applications for the grant can be submitted after six months of the marriage up to one year.
School dropout from the transgender community
According to The Times of India, the state reported that as many as 58 per cent members of the transgender community have dropped out of school with most of them not even completing their basic education.
Kerala has been leading the cause of empowering the stigmatised community when it became the first state in the country to introduce the 'Transgender Policy'. The policy was aimed at working towards the upliftment of the members and to end the societal stigma towards the group.
The publication further reported that the state accommodates over 4,000 community members. The government has been facing the challenges for proper implementation of the scheme or deliver justice since many of them fear discriminatory treatment if they register themselves with the authorities and declare themselves as transgender.
Why are such children dropping out?
Several reports have suggested that most of the children skip classes due to bullying. Abuses in the form of threats of rape, groping, hitting, locking in a room, spreading of rumours are rampant in the schools across the country.
In India, the total population of transgender persons is around 4,87,803 with a literacy rate of 57.06% according to the 2011 Census.
In 2011, there were 54,854 transgender children below the age of six. These children are now between the ages of 10 and 16 and should currently be in schools, according to a report by The Wire.
The daily conducted interviews with a number of members from the community who flagged a few prominent reasons for the school-phobia. Lack of awareness about gender identity, sensitivity, seating arrangements in the classrooms, experiences in the washrooms and preconceived notions are some of the factors impacting their mental health and contributing to high school dropout rates.
Making educational institutions 'trans-friendly' is the need of the hour since education plays a crucial role in empowering such individuals who can pave way for the community to follow towards living a decent life.
It is important to note that transgender students need visibility in the education system through constant representation and awareness about their struggles. Additionally, making the existing curriculum more gender-inclusive has the potential to turn the page for them and bring concrete changes in social perceptions.
Dropping out of school is one of the key ingredients forcing the trans community members to survive through begging, dancing on ceremonies, working as sex workers. The transgender persons fail to get access to learning opportunities, leading to failure in securing career opportunities.
Many community members, over the time, have also shared that the even though after braving the odds they become a part of mainstream professions, they are subjected to verbal and sexual harassment or frequent bullying and discrimination by co-workers.
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