Indian transgender community not keen on voting

TransgenderWomen Chapter Desk: Most members of India’s transgender community are not keen on voting in the upcoming parliamentary elections despite winning the right to vote. Activists say this reflects their lack of trust in the electoral system.

The election fever is high in India these days with various political parties and their candidates trying to reach out to voters ahead of parliamentary elections due in April-May. But Sanjana, a 25-year-old transgender, seems uninterested in the campaign.

“Our existence hardly matters to these politicians,” Sanjana told. “I recently got a voting card, but I won’t participate in the elections. And why should I? Has any political party done anything for us in all these years?” asked Sanjana.

Mallika D’ Souza, another Indian transgender, shares Sanjana’s views. D’ Souza has decided to boycott the polls despite being actively wooed by political parties.

“They want our votes, but do nothing to solve our problems. At the time of elections, these political parties come running to us. We want everyone to recognize and respect our identity first,” D’ Souza told.

In 2011, the Indian election commission decided to allow the transgender people to vote in general elections as a separate group and they are expected to cast their ballots for the first time in the upcoming polls. But election officials say only a handful of them have enrolled in the ‘others’ category on ballot papers.

“This is not encouraging. We have done our best to go to these people and register them for polls but they don’t seem very interested,” a senior election commission official told a news agency on condition of anonymity.

(A DW report)

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