Gets Easy for First-time Transgenders to Vote in India
By A Correspondent
First-time transgender voters henceforth need not bother looking for a sponsor or beg their parents to sign the new registration form.
A recent order of the Election Commission of India (ECI) has relaxed conditions with the addition of 'chela' (assistant) or guru (teacher) in the voter registration form.
Till now, parents of transgenders were signing the form and many refused to do so after their wards declared themselves transgenders.
"The ECI has issued an order to this effect and also communicated to the local chief electoral officers of all the states and Union territories. But we are yet to get the order," said Praveenkumar, Tamil Nadu CEO. The order is yet to be uploaded on the ECI website but commission officials confirmed that such an order has been issued.
"Transsexuals may not be accepted in some families and in such cases the eligible person may be deprived of voting right due to the current enrollment process where proof of age and proof of residence are required to be submitted. With this modification, even a teacher can endorse a transsexual's case for registration as a voter," a senior ECI official said.
In the form of oath or affirmation for the first-time applicants in the 18-25 age-group, 'guru' has been added to parents while 'chela' has been incorporated after son/daughter. The form could be signed either by parents or 'guru' of the transsexuals. "Each and every transgender will be "adopted" by a senior transgender (matriarch) as a daughter or granddaughter in a ritual. From then, the matriarch becomes the 'guru' for the young transgender," said Sunil Menon of Sahodaran, an NGO working with transgenders.
"It is a welcome move by the Election Commission. Once we decide to declare ourselves as a transgender or a woman, the family will oppose our declaration. With the EC order, if we are able to get our guru to sign the new voter registration form, it will be great help to the transgenders. Many of them are not able to vote because of family's objection to sign the form," said Rose Venkatesan, a popular transgender TV host. In many cases the transgenders have declared themselves as male and registered as a voter, Rose said.
The EC should also do away with the rule seeking documents to prove we are a transgender or a woman, Rose said adding, "In many instances, the officials ask for documents regarding sex change or even if we change our names. It is difficult to produce medical documents to prove our sex change surgery. The EC should permit us to register without these documents.
[Source: South Asian Media Network]