KOCHI: After the Transgender Policy was passed by the State Government in 2015, the Social Justice Department had decided earlier this year to issue transgender identity cards to ensure the delivery of welfare benefits to the community.
However, the initiative is facing hurdles after the community members alleged lack of clarity in the cards.
According to Sreekutty Namitha, the president of the Sexual and Gender Minorities Federation Kerala, the government initially issued a card that did not look official. “It did not have the government’s emblem. After we protested, they issued another card with the emblem. But then, they got the nomenclature wrong. In the card, the sex was mentioned as transgender. How can a department working for the welfare of the transgender community not understand the difference between sex and gender? When you mention sex as transgender, it sounds like a defect. That is wrong. There are people in the community who wish to be identified as ‘transman’ or ‘transwoman’, male or female. So it is very confusing,” Sreekutty said.
The District Social Justice Department, in another attempt to issue the identity cards, recently called a meeting with the representatives of transgenders. “We heard their problems. The issues regarding the nomenclature will be resolved only during the screening process,” said District Social Justice Officer Jebin Lolitha Sain. She said they have been asked to apply for the cards online. “The screening process will be held without delay. During the screening process, the eligibility of the applicants will be scrutinised. Consequently, the applications will be forwarded to the Social Justice Directorate,” said Jebin.
The transgender community has already embraced it. “Initially, regarding the cards, there was a question of value. After the meeting, the transgender community has been made aware that the card is necessary to avail the welfare benefits,” said Sheetal Shyam, a transgender activist.
However, there are some in the community who believe that the initiative will not bear fruit. “The government had allocated Rs 10 crore for the issuance of the transgender identity cards in the budget. Other than calling some meetings, nothing much has happened. This would also remain like any other project announced for the transgender community,” said Sreekutty.