‘Other’ Voters Gear up to Stamp Their Poll Rights
With the inclusion of a new category ‘other’ in the voters identity card, they are now enjoying a newfound individuality. Gathering in a small room, about eight transgenders listen with attention as Mira Kinnar explains the importance of ‘Other’ gender category in the voter identity card (ID).
As election campaigning heats up, political parties are gradually addressing the issues of of this community, which is expected to play a substantial role in the upcoming elections. The Election Commission (EC) introduced the ‘Other’ gender category in 2011 to recognise the transgenders following which more than 1,100 candidates in the State have received the ‘other’ category voter identity card.
“We are getting many calls from representatives of different parties, who enquire about our preferred candidates,” said Mira Kinnar, president, All Odisha Kinnar Mahasangha.
Echoing similar thoughts, Swati Kinnar said, “I will vote for the candidate who is not afraid of speaking out for us and considers us equal.” The community members are keeping an eye on the candidates who raise the issues of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community rights and Supreme Court’s ban on homosexuality.
Even though a majority of the community members boast of high educational qualification, till date, the only Government identity proof issued for them is the voter identity card. Mira said neither do they have a BPL nor a ration card.
Activist Abharani Choudhry, who has been working with the transgenders for a long time, said, the identification will be the first step towards formulating developmental scheme for the community.
Local corporators said, the transgenders have a strong command over the slum votes which is why earlier, politicians used to invite them to political rallies. But, Mira says, this time they will not favour any political party. A two time corporator of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), Amaresh Jena said, formal education is a crucial requirement for the transgender community. “Educating them and creating appropriate jobs for them is a necessity,” he said.