Odisha has become the first state in the country to provide food grains, pension, health, education and housing benefits to the transgender community, thus including them in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. The step has been taken to empower the transgender community.
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A lack of access to education and employment chances has meant many male-to-female transgender people – also known as “hijras” – end up forced into sex work or moving around in organised groups, begging or demanding money.
In a judgment in April 2014, Supreme Court recognised transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment.
The court recognised the community as a marginalised group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status.
Identity documents such as birth certificates, driving licenses and passports must now recognise the third gender, and a certain number of public sector jobs, seats in schools and colleges must be allocated to third-gender applicants.
The difference between sex and gender
Transgender is a global term for the people whose gender identity does not conform with the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth. Sex is different from gender. Sex refers to genitalia and gender is a society constructed description to differentiate between a man and woman.
Benefits to the Transgender community
- Members of the transgender community will be given BPL cards
- The BPL cards will give them access to a number of social benefits under various government welfare programmes
- The benefits include “free housing, pensions loans to start up their own businesses and 100 days of paid work annually”
- The community will also be entitled to 5 kg of food grains every month
- In the 2011 census, 4,000 transgender people had registered themselves in the ‘Others’ category
- In the year 2014, the transgenders were recognised as a legal third gender by the Supreme Court which ordered the government to provide the third gender with quotas in jobs and education
- A bill for the transgenders was passed in the Rajya Sabha which sought equal rights for the community on April 24, 2015. The bill was later adopted through a voice note.
When we talk about the right to equality, it is applicable to each and every citizen of the country. But some group of people are discriminated and humiliated which goes totally unnoticed. Same is the case with the transgender community. Odisha is doing a great job and the efforts are just impressive. We hope this happens in other states as well on the same scale.