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Transgenders voice fears

Transgenders on Tuesday voiced concern over the Supreme Court verdict labelling them as “third gender” and the proposal to club them with OBCs.

About 30 representatives of the transgender community expressed their opinion on the issues at an interactive session hosted by the state government to find ways to implement the apex court’s recommendations on transgenders.

Social welfare minister Shashi Panja and officials of her department interacted with the transgenders at the session held at a Salt Lake hotel.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict in April, recognised “the third gender” and ruled that they were entitled to all fundamental rights, reservation in jobs and education, and separate public toilets. The state government is mulling options to form a transgender welfare board to implement the court’s order.

“Even after the verdict we have faced rude behaviour from police. A transgender couple went to a city police station on May 15 after they were harassed by local youths. What they faced at the police station amounted to a second round of torture,” said Anindita Dutta, a transgender.

The couple approached the Association for Transgender/Hijra, an NGO working for transgenders, that persuaded the officers to lodge a complaint.

“When we approach the protector of law, this is the behaviour we get. The Supreme Court order is three months old but nothing has changed,” said another transgender.

Panja as well as police officers present admitted to the problem.

Members of the transgender community urged the minister to ensure the government did not use the term “third gender” as it was “humiliating”.

“We are proud to be transgender and the government should use that term,” said Aparna Banerjee, after Panja said she was unsure of the correct word to use.

The community members also expressed apprehension about being clubbed with OBCs for reservations. “If the government is serious, they must create a separate quota for us,” said Dutta.

Creating public toilets, separate wards in hospitals and facilities were also discussed but government officials said it would take time to tackle the sensitive issues. The transgenders said they should be represented in all committees formed to implement the Supreme Court order.