Kerala is pioneer in transgender rights. So where are the transgender voters?

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04/18/2021

Kerala has been a pioneer in the field of transgender rights in the country. It was the first state in India to announce a transgender policy after the 2014 Supreme Court judgment established the right to equality and equal protection for transgender persons. It was also the first state to set up a board for the welfare of transgenders in 2016. Earlier this year, the Kerala government decided to include ‘Transgender’ as a gender option in all its application forms as well as voters’ lists. Yet despite these measures to bring transpersons into the mainstream and help them integrate into the society, participation of the transgender community in elections – the ‘festival of democracy’ – remains low. According to Election Commission data, only 37 per cent of transgender people cast their votes in the assembly election. 37 per cent of the total 221 transgender voters in the state. Officials say that although the government has a liberal approach, practical difficulties exist in ensuring voting rights of transgender people. “We have a very liberal approach towards transgender persons, but we have to follow procedures. A person should be available at the address provided with the EC when our officers go there for verification. Otherwise, that person will not be included in the list,” says Tikkaram Meena, the chief electoral officer of Kerala. He says that members of the community are not always available at their respective addresses.

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