With Three Transgender Running For Office, Is India Finally Overcoming Prejudice?
Just a few months after India’s Supreme Court recognized a “third gender” option, three transgender women from Orissa are running for office. The Mahila Janata Dal (BMJD) party’s Vice President Meera Parida, a trans activist, who led a number of trans women joining politics and is the first transgender to hold the position of party’s Vice President, would be contesting from Begunia constituency, Orissa. She said in an interview to Orissa news that she wanted to contest from Begunia constituency in Khurda district.
She went on to say, “This is a small step toward making the LGBTQ wing in our political party sometime in the future.” Moreover, Meera is also a Chairman of the All Odisha Third Gender Welfare Trust. She has also launched an NGO to protect the rights of transgender people in Odisha.
Other Trans Women in Orissa Election
Meanwhile, Kajal Nayak, 27, a transwoman, is also running for Korei Assembly constituency seat in Jajpur district, according to the Odhisa Sun Times. Another transwoman, Menaka Kinnar have joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Menaka will fight for a seat in Bhubaneswar. “No society can improve unless women are empowered. I want to give a strong message that eunuchs (third gender) are not inferior to anyone,” she said.
India’s general elections starting this month will be the first time when trans Indian will be casting their vote as the third gender. As per 2011 census, India is home to around 5 lakh transgender but only a meagre 39,000 are registered as the third gender in their respective constituencies.
Sneha Kale made headlines when she became the first-ever trans woman to contest General election. India’s first Miss Trans Queen Veena Sendra also joined country’s oldest political party, Congress, last month. Earlier this year, the same party appointed its first transgender office-bearer Apsara Reddy. In 2015, Madhu Kinnar was elected as India’s only transgender mayor from Raigarh.
Last year, Shabnam Mausi a transwoman, made history by becoming the first ever transgender MLA in India.
India’s Supreme Court in 2014 recognized trans identities as a third gender but still society does not seems to accept them neither as a leader nor as a citizen. The continue to face violence. A transgender politician running for office in Hyderabad went missing during her election campaign. Last month, a man decapitated a trans priestess in her temple. Even after the government’s long effort, the trans community remains marginalized, poor and susceptible to violence. Many transgender have also criticized the government’s Transgender bill 2014 by saying, “It will do more harm than good.”