For the longest time, Kerala was more or less ruling the the inclusivity game, with their integrative policies on social welfare for marginalised transgender communities. But as of this month’s turn of events, Odisha has started to seriously up their game. According to a report by the India Times, Odisha has become the country’s first state to provide transgenders with pension plans, housing facilities and food benefits. There has always been a need to bring forth and resolve the numerous issues faced by transgenders in India and this new policy can very well be a reflection of the country’s growing conscience on the impoverished conditions experienced by many of them. “Most transgender people are in a very bad condition because of social exclusion. They very often do not get employment easily,” said Nitendra Chandra, the Principal Secretary of Odisha’s Department of Social Security. He also emphasised on how these new benefits would be in par with those given to people below the poverty line.
Decades worth of social ostracisation, the transgender community has been deprived of educational and employment opportunities. Furthermore, this stigma has restricted them to resorting to sexual labour or begging for money, to make ends meet. And while April 2014 brought about the recognition of the transgenders as a third gender, there still lies a strong need for a larger movement in deconstructing the stigma around this community and pushing authorities in improving their socio-economic conditions.
According to Odisha’s new policies, members of the transgender community would be receiving Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards that would grant them access to benefits under various government welfare programmes - which includes free housing, 100 days of paid work annually, pensions and loans to start up their own businesses and 5kg of food grains every month under the National Food Security Act. “We are thankful to the government. This is a welcome step. At least now the government has started recognising our problems,” said Meera Parida, chairperson of All Odisha Third Gender Welfare Trust.
Feature image courtesy of The Logical Indian
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