Kerala has become the first State to have a policy for transgenders

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By Sanchita Garule

Kerala has become the first State to have a policy for transgenders with the release of the policy document by Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson at the‘International Conference on Gender Equality’ in Kovalam on November 12, 2015.

He handed over the first copy of the policy to Akkai Padmashali, who is a transgender minority activist from Karnataka.

The state policy states that 58% of transgender students drop out before completing 10th grade and 24% drop out even before completing 9th grade due to severe harassment, gender related negative experiences and lack of special educational quota or reservations.

About 76% are unable to register gender identity the way they choose in the application form for an ID card or other services.

The four major rights that the policy confers on transgenders are: Right to Equality, Right to Dignity and a life without violence, Right to Freedom of Expression, and Right to Equal Participation in Development.

However,  concerns have been raised over the lack of adequate consultation with them while formulating policies for their uplift.

Kalki, founder of Sahodari, which works in empowering the transgender community, said though she was very happy that Kerala had released the transgender welfare policy which looks all glossy, very good and very promising, she was concerned about its loopholes also.

“During the framing of the Kerala transgender policy, transgender community was not consulted. There has to be a nationwide consultation on the transgender rights policy, which is going to be passed in the Lok Sabha, also,” she said.

Akkai Padmashali feels there is still work to be done to make the policy more comprehensive and useful. “I went through Kerala’s policy. It is a beautiful policy, however, it does have some issues. It does not completely address issues pertaining to laws like IPC section 377. It could have introduced awareness on transgender in school curriculum.”

(Sanchita Garule is a MSc Environmental science from Fergusson college, Pune)

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