Several hundreds of transgenders from across the state will converge in Mumbai for the first-of-its-kind public meeting scheduled on Thursday. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is expected to announce the creation of a state commission or welfare board for the community’s welfare.
Besides Chavan, his deputy, Ajit Pawar, and state minister for women and child welfare, Varsha Gaikwad, expected to attend the meeting, it has fuelled speculation that the government is meeting transgenders with an eye on elections.
However, chairperson of Astitva, Laxmi Tripathi, played down the election factor. “Instead of getting into the politics bit, we need to be happy that the government has woken up to the rights of the community,” said Tripathi.
A leader of the community, Chitra Gowri, who is associated with non-profit organisation, Sakhi Charchowghi, echoed the view. “First let the community have a voter’s identity card and ration card. After that, we can think of elections and voting. Presently, we are even denied dignity in death,” said Gowri.
She cited the instance of a 34-year-old transgender, Kumari, who died on Saturday at the city’s largest state-run hospital. “Her liver was failing but Kumari was initially denied admission. When she was finally let in, she was made to lie near a toilet. Only after other community members raised this with the hospital dean, did the doctor concerned apologise. “By then, it was too late for her. We want an assurance from the state that no one will be denied dignity in their last moments,” said Gowri.
A positive step
A draft of the women’s policy unveiled on Women’s Day (March 8) set the tone for the community’s meeting as it included transgenders.
Activist Ashok Row Kavi said that the policy provisions look at transgender like a disease or a disorder that should be got rid of or controlled. “Instead of helping, this is saying society would be better off if people can be prevented from being transgender. At a time when the world is moving away from the gender dysphoria narrative to a gender identity one, this is regressive,” he said.