The Tamil Nadu state governor has announced the establishment of a welfare board for transgenders, believed to be not just the first in the country but the first in the world
To mitigate the problems faced by transgenders, the government of Tamil Nadu has constituted a separate welfare board for them. It is the first of its kind by any government in the country.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi signed the orders on April 10, 2008, appointing the social welfare minister as president of the board, according to a statement from the secretariat.
Appointed to the board are the secretaries of law and finance, and senior officials heading various agencies like the women’s commission, police, and state human rights and social justice commissions. In addition, a number of transgenders have been included as non-official members of the board, the statement said.
Constitution of the board came in the wake of a public hearing highlighting the daily injustices and poverty faced by the transgender community in Tamil Nadu, organised by the Tamil Nadu AIDS Solidarity Action group (TASA), Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women, and ActionAid. It brought together over 300 transgendered people from across the state.
In response, the state governor announced, on January 23, 2008, the establishment of a welfare board for transgenders, believed to be not just the first in the country but the first in the world.
Earlier, the government had introduced separate ration cards for transgenders, pioneering initiatives for helping this marginalised community.
Transgenders are often discriminated against in jobs, forcing many to take to begging. In December 2006, the Tamil Nadu state government passed an order saying that no educational institute or government organisation could discriminate against someone on the basis of them being a transgendered person.
According to a survey carried out in 2007 by the Madras Christian Council of Social Service (MCCSS), among 200 members of the transgender community, a huge majority of the community is acutely aware of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS and their prevention. “As much as 99% said that HIV/AIDS testing must be made mandatory, and 83% said they used condoms during sexual activity,” said R Isabel, executive director of MCCSS.