Family cut-off hinders transgenders’ NRC inclusion
Joanna (name changed) is a transgender from Guwahati. She recently attended an NRC hearing and submitted all documents though the papers corroborated her previous identity. She had no problem as her contact with her family helped her in stating the required legacy.
Others from her community are not that lucky.
A majority of the state’s transgender population, who are detached from their families, face a tough time in getting documents that would help them at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) hearing, said the All Assam Transgender Association (AATA). It also expressed concern over the fate of the state’s transgender community.
It said some members of the community have been called to NRC hearings because of confusion resulting from mismatch of their photographs or names, as they adopted another name after identifying themselves as “transgender”.
The association said transgenders, who have contact with their families, can produce documents as they can get hold of papers establishing their links with their families even if such documents mention their previous gender.
But, it pointed out, there are transgenders who have been shunned by their families fearing social ostracisation for “bringing shame to their families and they fear being excluded from the updated NRC.
Joanna said, “I may consider myself lucky as I have contacts with my family. I faced no problems during the hearing. I submitted my old documents that show my previous identity. But for those who have no contact with their families, it is quite difficult for them.”
The association said the population of the state’s transgenders has increased from 11,374 in the 2011 census to 20,000 at present. But only 200 members of the community across the state have contacts with their families and may have attended NRC hearing.
In Guwahati, only 20 to 25 transgender community members have attended such hearings.
AATA president Swati Bidhan Baruah said the only hope the majority of transgender people of the state can rest upon is the Supreme Court, which is yet to hear a petition Baruah had filed last year. In the petition, Baruah had highlighted the grim situation faced by the state’s transgender population in view of the NRC and had requested the apex court for a special provision for the state’s transgender people in the NRC.
“Many from the community didn’t apply for the NRC. A majority of the transgender people in the state do not have contacts with their families. They did not possess their documents when the NRC process began and cannot go back to their families for it as they are not accepted. They are all waiting for a suitable order from the highest temple of justice in the country. Order in favour of the community is the only resort as of now.”
Baruah blamed the state government’s sluggishness in providing name and gender-changing facility to the community.
“The state social welfare board was supposed to give us facilities such as issuing PAN cards, driving licence and other documents which would state our transgender status. But nothing has come of it yet. No guidelines or directions have been issued to look into the matter,” Baruah added.