THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At a time when the state has an estimated transgender population between 20,000 and 25,000, the state’s elector data has not even one per cent of the trans population as voters.
According to the data released by the Chief Electoral Office on Saturday, the state has a meagre 174 third gender voters.
The actual numbers could well be much higher and it might be fear out of social ostracism, social stigma and discrimination that many have concealed their actual identity, feel transgender activists and NGOs.
“The numbers could well be much higher. These 174 are those who wish to be known with their third gender identity. But there are many who out of fear of stigma and discrimination identify themselves as either male or female,” said Syama S Prabha, state project officer of State Transgender Cell.
She hoped a notable change will be there in the upcoming general elections as a lot had changed for the trans community since the 2014 general elections.
“The creation of the third gender status and the elimination of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code had brought that confidence to the transgenders to come out to the mainstream. But the way the transgenders had to conceal their identity highlights the fact society is yet to accept them,” said Syama.
State Transgender Justice Board member Anil said while the intervention of the Election Commission to make the trans community a part of the election process will make a difference, the resoluteness from the part of some officers to include the transgenders under the head of the third gender is technically incorrect.
“It is appreciable efforts are being made to bring the transgenders to the mainstream and make them a part of the electoral process. But to insist them to identify themselves as the third gender is not right.
“The choice of identification will have to be left to them. Some transgenders had already approached the Election Commission with the complaint that they are coerced to choose the third gender option,” said Anil.
At the same time, it is learnt the Social Justice Department with the help of the State Transgender Cell and NGOs working for the welfare of transgenders is giving shape to an awareness campaign to bring the transgenders to the polling booth. According to Anil,
“They will cast their votes for a social change. Already the Election Commission had made the transgenders a part of their voting-awareness videos and posters. The poll panel might also use the Transgender Cell to spread the message of exercising the franchise among the trans community.”