Transgender community seeks bigger share of Lok Sabha tickets; recognition of 'Trans Shakti'

The community members said the narrative of 'Nari Shakti' (women empowerment) must be transcended so that 'Trans Shakti' can also get due recognition and representation for the general elections.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express illustrations

NEW DELHI: Members of the transgender community are demanding a bigger share of tickets for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and the recognition of 'Trans Shakti' in hopes of getting their voices heard.

Belonging to one of the country's most marginalised communities, a majority of transgender people are hesitant to join politics.

However, politicians like Meera Parida, Bobbi Kinnar and Chandramukhi Muvvala, among others, are bucking the trend to fight for the rights of the community.

The community members said the narrative of 'Nari Shakti' (women empowerment) must be transcended so that 'Trans Shakti' can also get due recognition and representation and hoped that more political parties will give tickets to transgender candidates for the general elections.

Parida, Vice President of Biju Mahila Janata Dal, who was born Mayadhar Parida, lamented how, despite 75 years since Independence, trans community members are shunned during the day and exploited at night.

"I am ready to contest Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha polls if the party decides to entrust me with the responsibility," Parida, who left home at the age of 12 after facing years of ridicule from her family members, said.

She recalled how her early years were marked by a profound sense of difference, a feeling that set her apart from her peers.

Parida said she refused to stay silent and was determined to challenge the status quo. So, she immersed herself in social work and eventually found her voice in politics.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Kinnar, the first transgender councillor of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, emphasised the urgent need for representation and inclusion of transgender people in the country's politics. "A few years ago, people used to think that transgender individuals couldn't do anything; however, this is not true. Whatever men and women can do, we can do it too," she told PTI.

Kinnar said politicians in the country like to wear their struggles as badges of honour, but they pale in comparison to the harrowing experiences faced by several transgender individuals.

Corroborating Kinnar's views, Muvvala, who contested as an independent candidate in the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections, said there was an urgent need for the enhanced inclusion of the community in the country's politics.

"The trans community needs to talk more about the problems that we face. We know what our suffering is like. I am a beggar on the street, a sex worker; I have been thrown out by my family; I am being extorted, molested and raped by my classmates... A lot of things happen to us. Those who claim to represent us in Parliament don't know the pain that we know," Muvalla, who contested from the Goshamahal Assembly constituency, said.

"If there is a reservation for the likes of us, nominated positions for transwomen, it will be better because financially we are not fit and we don't have any support," she added.

She said the current situation is such that most of the bigger parties do not even think about choosing a transgender candidate and it is only the smaller parties that consider them.

In Karnataka, Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist and Congress member, emphasised the need for systemic change.

"We should learn from the world on how to uplift sexual minorities," Padmashali suggested, advocating for increased representation in parliament and state legislative councils.

"Our voting ratio is very low and there is a need for political structure now for the trans population. On the women's reservation bill in Parliament, they have not even mentioned transgender people, so raising your voice within the 33 percent is very difficult," she said.

There were 48,044 third-gender voters registered with the Election Commission of India in 2024. The number has grown from 39,683 in 2019.

The total number of electors in the 17th General Elections in 2019 was 91.2 crore. Of them, 47.34 crore were males, 43.85 crore were females and 39,075 belonged to the third gender.

The total number of contestants was 8,054, out of which 7,322 were males and 726 were females, whereas six belonged to the third gender. 

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