EC rejects demand to replace others with transgender

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Election Commission of India

The transgender community in Maharashtra wants to be strictly recognized as ‘transgender’ or ‘third’ gender rather than being labeled as ‘others’ in the electoral polls. But HS Brahma, the Deputy Chief Election Commissioner denied to reinstate ‘others’ with any other viable term.

The cry of the community grew louder after a Supreme Court order to issue government documents, identifying them as transgenders or hijras. According to Urmi Jadhav, research assistant with the Humsafar Trust, the Aadhaar Card clearly mentioned them as ‘transgenders’ and so the same should be used to identify them in the voter ID cards.

Prior to the Supreme Court order, the Election Commission had introduced an ‘others’ column along with ‘male’ and ‘female ’for the recent Lok Sabha electoral polls. 852 persons in Maharashtra had registered under that category and approximately 250 voted.

As per the 2011 consensus, India is home to about 4.9 lakh transgenders, of whom, 41,000 or 0.8 per cent are in Maharashtra. But the community claimed that the figure is much higher as 1.2 lakh of them are in Mumbai alone and another lakh in the state.

Laxmi Tripathy, general secretary, Maharashtra Tritiya Panthiya Sanghatana (MTPS) said that the term ‘others’ is not an appropriate identification for the community. A simple ‘transgender’ or ‘third gender’ would be more humane rather than an ‘indifferent’ others. She further mentioned that the state women and child welfare department had vowed to set up a Hijra Welfare Board to address their issues. The assurance was given before the Supreme Court’s decision to give legal recognition to the third gender in April.

Neha Kene, an activist said that the community faced problems while making passports as government officials were less sensitive about them. Terming ‘eunuch’ as derogatory, the activist further added that the use of ‘transgender’ or ‘third gender’ in electoral polls will also help them to deal efficiently with government departments.