The LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) community in the country are unfortunately still struggling to enter the mainstream and be accepted with equal grace.
In a path breaking move, Tamil Nadu became the first state to have a Transgender Welfare Policy, providing them with ration cards, free change of sex at the government general hospitals, various citizenship documents, admission in government colleges etc.
The Chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan took this further and decided to grant Rs 2 lakhs to transgenders for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS).
The Government of Kerala will grant up to ₹2 lakhs to transgenders for sex reassignment surgery. It will be implemented through the Social Justice Dept. The initiative follows many of the steps that the Kerala Government has taken to improve the lives of transgenders. pic.twitter.com/8rojlrrPZ6
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 4, 2018
“Assuming that the proposed grant will cover all the costs not just surgery, I welcome the step for those who want to undergo reassignment,” says Bindumadhav Khire, gay activist and President of the Samapathik Trust working for the advocacy of the LGBTQI community for the past 17 years.
“I have been receiving many queries from transgenders who are seeking financial support to undergo SRS as the cost is prohibitive in private hospitals.
At least transgenders from Kerala who desire to undergo the surgery will now be able to avail this facility. However, I do hope that it is not made compulsory for transgenders to go for the SRS.
“Not all transgenders want to go with Sex Reassignment Surgeries (SRS). The NALSA (National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India) judgement clearly states that one has the option to decide whether they want to be considered male, female or transgender and one need not undergo SRS to be identified as a transgender.
“For every 100 transgenders, there maybe around 20- 30 of them who wish to undergo SRS but there are 50 -60 who may not want SRS.
Moreover, some of them undergo only partial reassignments. Most importantly, there are intersex people who want to undergo sex assignment surgeries. My main concern is whether this have a wide enough coverage considering all the factors, or will it be restricted.”
India is estimated to have approximately 2 million transgender people.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that they had equal rights under the law and granted legal status to the “third gender”, giving them the right to marry and inherit property.
“The other point I want to highlight is that female to male transgenders generally remain unaddressed, as people consider transgender to be just male to female.
If they are only talking about male to female transgenders, then this would be discriminatory. Moreover, if the entire process is systematically followed, from getting certification from two different psychiatrists who certify them with gender identity dysphoria, hormonal therapy, counseling, surgical intervention and other procedures depending upon the need and want of the person, the cost would be somewhere between 3-4 lakhs.”
Speaking on their quest with the Maharashtra government, Bindumadhav adds, “The Maharashtra government should also come up with such initiatives while working for the others that they had promised earlier.
“The creation of the Transgender Welfare Board in Maharashtra on the lines of the welfare board created in Tamil Nadu was proposed much earlier but there hasn’t been much progress despite the NALSA judgment of 2013.
“I wonder if they are serious about wanting to empower transgenders and provide them services. Looking at the progress made so far, I am not very optimistic.
Kerala also has reservation for transgenders in the Metro. None of such affirmative measures have come from the state government which is a tragedy.
They also announce that the Sanjay Gandhi Pension Scheme would also be applicable to transgenders, but that also has fallen flat due to faulty implementation.
“Those who have been castrated receive certificates for ‘being castrated’ from state government hospitals whereas the state government needs the certification of ‘transgender’ to avail the pension.
We have people who have received certifications, but they haven’t made any progress since the words mentioned on the certificate do not match the governments criteria. Such problems need to be addressed sooner to empower the community.”
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