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Karnataka polls: Our votes too matter, say transgenders

After a lot of effort, this time, a few of them got their voter ID cards and are excited about casting their votes for the first time.

Published: 27th April 2018 03:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2018 03:07 PM   |  A+A-

They are in their mid-30s or early 40s, but never in their lives have they cast their votes.

Express News Service

BENGALURU: They are in their mid-30s or early 40s, but never in their lives have they cast their votes. Reason: they neither had their name enrolled on the voters’ list nor did they have voter ID cards.

After a lot of effort, this time, a few of them got their voter ID cards and are excited about casting their votes for the first time. In 2013 Karnataka assembly polls, there were 2,100 transgenders who enrolled on the voters’ list, of which, only 49 cast their votes — which is less than 2%.

This time, in Karnataka, the number of transgenders who have enrolled has touched 4,552. But according to the community leaders, there are close to one lakh transgenders, some of whom have migrated from other states.  “There is a failure on the part of the Election Commission authorities in not enrolling the remaining members from our community and political parties did nothing to help us,” Rajyotsava awardee and transgender activist Akkai Padmashali (34) — who was born as Jagadish — told The New Indian Express. “I  managed to enrol my name in the voters’ list, but I am yet to get my voter ID card. In a democratic country like India, I am getting the right to vote after 16 years of becoming an adult. Is this not disgusting?” she says.

While some do not have address proof, others do not like to be part of the democracy as they feel no government does anything for them and hence they show least interest in elections. But, it is the duty of authorities concerned to involve them, she says. “This time, along with authorities, I went to every district and reached out to our people. We explained to them about the significance of voting and made them enrol their names,’’ she adds

Shanthi (37) says, “ I was a male before and my first voter ID says the same. I did not bother to vote with a false identity. I ran away from home. Three years back, I got my new voter ID with gender mentioned as female. But then there was a problem with the date of birth. Later, I had to get my SSLC marks card from home through my friends. Now, I have the corrected the error,” she says.

Nalini (28) used to stay with her friends. “After I ran away from home in Ramanagara, I landed in Bengaluru. I used to stay with my seniors. Later, when I turned 24, I realised that it was time to be independent. But landlords would not give us house on rent. I managed to rent a small house in Ramamurthy Nagar. I got my rental agreement done, got my Aadhaar card and now my voter ID,” she says.

Priya (41) is from Koppal. “I was in first PU and ran away from home. When I tried a couple of times to enrol in the voters’ list,   officials would either humiliate me or send me back saying that I did not have the  documents. Only recently, after I got my Aadhaar card, my friends insisted on me getting a voter ID card and I have one now. At last, I feel I belong to this country,” she adds.



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