Pune: The transgender community in Pune heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday, after Supreme Court's landmark verdict that not only recognised them as the "third gender" but also promised them facilities such as voter ID, passport and driving license already familiar to the other two genders.
The community that has been living an identity-less existence, welcomed the decision. "For the transgenders, there's a natural phobia wherein, people both inside and outside the community are afraid of freely interacting with one another," said Santosh Chavan, who is currently associated with a city-based LGBTHI NGO called the Sampathik Trust. However, with this new wave of change, he adds that there are possibilities of a new attitude and approach towards this section of the society in education, employment, health and other fields.
Fresh expectations rise with this new recognition, as Chawan describes the many needs of the community. "To begin with, a pink ration card could be granted to us for creating our identity, and like other people in the society transgenders should also have access to various state sponsored housing facilities," he adds.
Usha Joshi, a member of Ashirwad, a local NGO working for the rights of the transgenders, who has a failed attempt towards her BSc degree has expressed desire to study further. In fact, some of them are even hopeful for better employment opportunities once they are well educated. "The only source of earning for us is begging and dancing at functions, however with this recognition, we expect more respectful jobs," said Nandini Kasturi, fellow-worker at Ashirwad.
Having been subjected to years of ignorance, disrespectfulness and public teasing, these people have meagre demands, which includes learning, earning and leading a normal social life, like any other person.
Panna Gabriel who runs Ashirwad, outlines all these demands and expectations as "real development". She says, "They are truly free now in the 67 years of Indian independence."