In a first, Kerala to set up justice board for welfare of transgenders

  • Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2016 09:02 IST
Activists take part in a march in New Delhi. (Raj k Raj/HT File Photo)

Kerala will set up a justice board for transgenders aimed at ensuring justice and equality for members of the community.

The first-of-its-kind board in the country, which is part of the state transgender policy announced two months ago, will hear the transgenders exclusively and take steps to bring them into the mainstream.

Also, it will provide free legal aid to check growing discrimination and violence against them.

After the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as a third gender in 2014, many people from this community came out openly to claim their rights. But violent incidents against them also increased subsequently.

The board will set up a 24x7 helpline, issue ID cards and ensure hassle-free arrangements to mark their status in all records.

It will help arrange home stay facilities for those ostracised by their families. Besides, necessary steps will be taken to make educational institutions transgender-friendly.

Some prisons in the state have already introduced separate blocks for third sex inmates.

According to a recent survey conducted by the state social welfare board, transgenders undergo maximum exploitation in jails and police stations.

“We have brought aboard departments such as health, education, home and revenue to set up an effective board which will help the invisible community to be visible. The board will help end their exclusion,” state social justice department director VN Jithendran said.

The department recently conducted a survey with the help of community members and the findings were disturbing.

According to the survey, at least 60% of transgenders tried to commit suicide and 58% dropped out of school because of harassment and similar reasons. Only 10% of the community members revealed their true identity to their family and 80% are forced to marry ignoring their sexual inclination.

In Kerala, their numbers are about 30,000 but only 4,000 are visible. Ironically, Kerala is the first state to bring a state policy for transgenders.

“The situation is alarming. Most of the members are forced to migrate to other states for a living. We hope the transgender policy would bring some acceptability and respectability to the community,” said a member of the survey team.

Though the literacy rate of transgenders is 93%, only 12% have regular jobs, the survey shows. Social activists said an exclusive justice board for transgenders would help reduce their sufferings.

Read| No more ‘sir’, I’m ‘madam’: Govt officer reveals transgender identity

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