Today, India celebrates its 73rd Republic Day with the iconic parade at Delhi's Rajpath. The country cherishes the date on which the Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, thus turning India into a newly-formed "republic".
The Constitution of India has granted the right to equality to all its citizens. All people are equal before the law and there can be no discrimination based on religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth, etc. The same applies to the transgender community in India.
However, much before India ruled transgender people as a third gender, Shabnam "Mausi" Bano had already become part of the politics.
Who Is Shabnam Mausi?
Shabnam "Mausi" is the first transgender person in India to be elected to public office (MLA). She became an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.
Shabnam was born to a wealthy and privileged family, but when a band of eunuchs came to bless her not long after her birth, they discovered she too was like them, and the infant was sent to live with others of her kind. She could just attend two years of primary schooling but learned 12 languages during her travels.
Shabnam Mausi was elected from the Sohagpur constituency in Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol-Annupur district. Being a member of the Legislative Assembly, her plan included fighting corruption, poverty, unemployment, hunger and speaking out against discrimination for transgender persons, hijras, eunuchs, cross-dressers and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
She has inspired many transgender people of the country to take up politics and participate in 'mainstream activities', giving up their traditional roles as dancers, beggars, prostitutes, living on the fringes of society. For example, they often attend weddings or the house of a newborn baby, offering services to ward off bad luck.
In 2003, transgender people in Madhya Pradesh established their own political party called "Jeeti Jitayi Politics" (JJP), which means 'politics that has already been won'. The party released an eight-page manifesto to outline its political differences from the mainstream politics.
In 2005, a fiction feature film titled Shabnam Mausi was made about her life. Yogesh Bharadwaj directed it, and Ashutosh Rana played the role of Shabnam Mausi.
Although she is no longer part of public office, but she ensures to actively participate in AIDS/HIV with NGOs and gender activists in India.