It is difficult enough for men and women, firmly rooted in their male and female psyches, to understand each other’s problems. When it comes to transgenders, their problems are understood by neither males nor females. The Madras High Court recently made this observation while commenting about the discrimition suffered by transgenders. The court was hearing the case of a petitioner categorized as a ‘man’ in a public examition under Tamil du Uniformed Services Recruitment Board, though she feels like a woman. Ruling in her favour as a ‘third gender’ as laid down by the Supreme Court, the High Court directed that she be appointed. Thus KP Yashini is all set to become India’s first transgender police sub-inspector. That she had to move court to seek justice in a State like Tamil du speaks volumes about the uphill struggle transgenders face to make a decent livelihood. After all, it was Tamil du which took the lead in recognizing the rights of transgenders, allowing them to avail of housing, ration cards, citizenship documents and other welfare schemes. Traditiolly regarded as harbingers of luck and fertility, transgenders have long fallen upon hard times. They are looked down upon and margilised, eking out a living by singing and dancing in ceremonies, doing menial jobs, sex work or begging. Governments and private employers avoid recruiting them; many a times, transgenders did not even know whether to apply for jobs as males or females. In its landmark judgment last year, the Supreme Court not only granted a formal status to transgenders and eunuchs, it asked the Central government to treat them as socially and economically backward, as well as provide equal opportunities in education and employment as third gender applicants. The Election Commission allows transgenders to vote in the ‘Others’ category. Transgenders have been elected to public office, the first being Shabm Mausi in 1998 as member to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the latest being Madhu Bai Kinr in January this year as mayor of Chhattisgarh’s capital Raigarh. The trauma of a female mind trapped in a male body or vice versa, the pain of being born with a body having mixed male and female characteristics — needs understanding as our society matures. The country, after all, had about 4,90,000 people officially listed as transgenders in the 2011 census.
food for thought