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West Bengal: State Government Proposes Transgender Welfare Board

Kolkata:Transgender still are concerned over the Supreme Court much hyped verdict labelling them as “third gender” and the proposal to club them with OBCs. More than thirty representatives of the community expressed their opinion and concerns to the state government on Tuesday. They had met the government officials to find solutions to implement the apex court’s recommendations on the ‘third gender community’.


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


State Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashi Panja said, “Our government is quite receptive to granting their dues to hijras and other transgender people. So, we are in the process of constituting a separate Transgender Welfare Board (TWB) under the supervision of my department.” Further elaborating on the issue, a senior department officer remarked, “We already consulted representatives of different organizations, who work on transgender people, in order to formulate an initial outline of the scope of our work.” According to department sources, the proposed board will first conduct an enumeration to determine the exact number of transgender people in the state. Once that is done, the board will start providing necessary amenities to transgender people including issuing OBC certificates.


But the community still responds with skepticism. “Even after the verdict people have faced discrimination from police. A transgender couple recently had gone 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 had later approached the “Association for Transgender/Hijra”, an NGO working on the community and persuades the officers to lodge a complaint.


Members of the transgender community rather believe that the use of ‘third gender’ was “humiliating and discriminating”.


“We are proud to be transgender and the government should use that term,” said Aparna Banerjee one from the community. 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.


“The demand is basically to get due representation and we should be part of all communities formed to implement the supreme court order. It should be clubbed with the OBCs as people tend to loose identities and continue to be discriminated”, observed Manju, another transgender activist. But people also believed that getting in separate wards in hospitals, separate public toilets and the welfare board will be beneficial for the uplift of the community.

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