Transgender persons should have a secure shelter home because often their families do not accept them and they have nowhere to go, an 18-year-old said on Thursday. Shivam Singh wrote to the West Bengal minister of women & child development and social welfare.
She placed her charter of demands that wanted the state to be more accepting of transgender persons and give them “recognition and due importance”. On Thursday, she was the chairperson for a day of the state commission for protection of child rights. The commission observed World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is on July 30.
Some of her demands came from Shivam’s own experiences. With a friend’s help, Shivam went to Bihar as a dancer where she was “sexually exploited,” and finally after two-and-a-half years, with the help of an organisation in Kolkata, she escaped from there.
“Many transgender persons are not accepted in the family and have no place to go. It is better if there is a shelter home where they feel secure rather than be forced to be in situations that they do not want to be in,” said Shivam, who came here seven months back.
Trafficking of transgender children should be addressed with the same seriousness as other kids; they should get opportunities to pursue a career and should be mainstreamed, are some of Shivam’s demands.
Police and the administration should be more sensitive towards the transgender persons, said Shivam. And there should be no discrimination against these persons in school or tuition classes, the 18-year-old added. The demands would be drafted and sent to the minister, the commission said. The chairperson of the state commission for protection of child rights said that it was time to think beyond the binary.
“We have to think that it is not just man and woman but there are other people who are part of society and they face problems,” said Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR).
“If we are educated and progressive then we have to think inclusively. We have to think of an inclusive society where we have to give equal respect to all,” the chairperson said.
Chatterjee Chakraborti later told The Telegraph that when one opens the mind, one can start accepting diversity. Transgender children either get trafficked into the sex trade or are seen begging at traffic signals when they are not treated with respect. Although Shivam fled Bihar and came to Kolkata about seven months back, it took her another six months to be accepted back into her family.
“Even if families want to accept, often there is a societal pressure that makes it difficult for them to do that,” said Aparna Banerjee, the managing trustee of Amitie Trust,which works with LBTQIA communities and intervened to get Shivam back into her family.