THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The efforts of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)-Kerala to bring the third gender voters to polling booths have gone astray as of the total 174 voters, only 58 voters had cast their votes. On the flip side, transgender activists said polling booths had witnessed a heavy turnout of transgenders as they cast their votes by hiding their third gender identity. As per estimates, the state is said to have around 20,000 to 25,000 transgenders.
“The data available with us says about 55 to 60 transgenders cast their votes in the state on Tuesday,” said K Jeevan Babu, Joint CEO. However, State Transgender Justice Board member Anil said the stats of the CEO is questionable as transgenders might have cast their votes by hiding their third gender status.
“As per the final electorate published by the CEO-Kerala the state had 174 third gender voters. This is contentious. Our estimate is there are anywhere between 20,000 to 25,000 transgenders in the state. Out of fear of stigmatisation and ostracism, a majority of them were forced to hide their identity. In the case of some others they like to identify themselves as either male or female,” said Anil.
He said thus the stats of 174 and 55 is debatable. “When the enrolment process was going on, many transgenders had complained the Electoral Registration Officer had marked their identity as the third gender against their wish to identify as either male or female,” he said.
“But there were also others who want to identify themselves as third genders. Take the case of Chinchu Aswathy alias Aswathy Rajappan, the first intersex candidate ever to contest in the elections. Chinchu had cast the vote using the special identity card issued by the state government. There were also a number of first-time voters in the community,” he said.
State’s first intersex candidate casts vote
Kochi: Chinju Aswathi, the first intersex candidate to contest elections in Kerala, cast his vote at St Antony’s LP School at Naduvattom here on Tuesday, the same school where he spent his days as a young schoolgirl. Chinju arrived at the school with his parents. “We had to stand in the queue for over an hour, but it was a memorable moment,” said Chinju.
Being an intersex with a female name did bring with it a share of trouble for him, in the form of questioning glances and raised eyebrows from officers at the polling booth. “Since my name in the identity card is mentioned as Ashwathi Rajappan, they were not convinced of my identity initially, with my new looks. I had to explain to them that I am a candidate contesting from Ernakulam,” said Chinju.