'Other' gender enters poll rolls

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  • Published 13.11.09

New Delhi, Nov. 12: Male, female and “O”.

The “other” gender today entered the lexicon of the Election Commission, after the panel said eunuchs and transsexuals need not classify themselves as male or female any more in electoral rolls.

They have the option of registering themselves as the “” (other) gender, the commission said in a press release issued in the capital.

Till now, eunuchs who wanted to contest elections had to register as male or female, depending on the statements they had made to commission officials.

But the panel had been getting requests and representations from various quarters. “The commission has duly considered the request and has decided to allow eunuchs/transsexuals to indicate their sex as ‘Other’ where they do not want to be described as male or female,” the release said.

The “” clause will be available in all forms used by the commission, where provisions for indication of sex have been made, including IT-based formats and website.

The poll commission said enumerators and booth-level officers would be instructed to indicate the sex of eunuchs/ transsexuals as “” if they so desire while undertaking house-to-house enumeration or verification of an application. Necessary instructions, the commission added, had been issued to all electoral registration officers through the chief electoral officers of all states and Union territories.

Neha Sood, a member of Voices Against 377 — a loose coalition of NGOs fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders — called the move a “welcome step”.

“However, there’s a need to have a certain level of consistency in deciding an appropriate category for the community,” said Sood, whose group derived its name from a law that criminalised sexual activity “against the order of nature” before Delhi High Court recently allowed consensual adult gay sex.

“The government needs to have a consultation with the community,” Sood added.

Sood said passports currently had the option of registering as male, female or eunuch but added that it didn’t amount to much while travelling abroad as no such category is recognised internationally. In Tamil Nadu, she said, ration cards are issued to the “Third” gender.