KOLKATA: Rural India has over 70,000 transgenders, with Uttar Pradesh topping the list with nearly 13,000, and West Bengal home to around 10,000, reveals the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011.
The census's gender analysis reports rural India has 74,286 transgenders.
Uttar Pradesh tops the list among 35 Indian states and Union Territories with 12,916 members, Bihar comes in second with 9,987 transgenders and rural Bengal ranks third with 9,868 members of the third gender.
According to Ranjita Sinha, transgender activist and a member of Bengal's Transgender Development Board, the survey released on Friday reflects the growing recognition of the third gender in the state.
"The census will provide a way to frame better policies for the third gender in the state. A lot of positive things are happening in Bengal and the official record of the numbers are evidence of the growing recognition, especially in the rural areas," Sinha told IANS.
The survey reports a population of 7,07,68,606, and 1,57,56,852 households in rural Bengal. The proportion of transgenders in the state is around 13.3 percent of the national total.
Sinha, also the secretary of the Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal, said the statistics and data will help further strategies in health and education of the third gender.
"We have our rights just like any other citizen of India and being assigned a column in the survey is a step forward in mainstreaming," Sinha said.
Recently, the state government roped in India's first transgender college principal Manabi Bandyopadhyay to work with its transgender development board in framing a new policy for the third gender in Bengal.
Bandopadhyay made headlines with her appointment as the head of Krishnagar Women's College in Bengal, a first for India.
While states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have transgender welfare boards, Bengal has the country's sole development board for them.
This year, universities like Presidency University and Jadavpur University introduced separate criteria in admission forms for inclusion of the third gender.
At the national level, the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in April.
For the first time in 45 years, the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed a private member's bill. It envisages creation of a national commission for transgender communities and state level commissions.