Swati Bidhan Baruah

Guwahati, March 11, 2019:

In what would generally be considered a triumph for the transgender community, the Assam State Election Commission on Monday listed a total of 503 electorates as transgender for the Lok Sabha elections 2019. But the battle is yet to be won, believes Swati Bidhan Baruah, founder of All Assam Transgender Association (AATA).

In an exclusive interview with InsideNE, the transgender activist said: “In the last Vidhan Sabha elections, we had sent a letter to the Election Commission of India. The application form 6(A) of the new electoral roll was amended, the third gender was included and 475 transgender people were enrolled in the voter’s list. Earlier, many of the officials were unaware of the various guidelines and directions of the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) and there was no sufficient amendment to the application form so many other transgender faced difficulties (while registering). But after the amendment of the application form and inclusion of the third gender in that form, it has become easier for the community to enrol their name into the voter’s list. But we believe that there is much more need to be done for the community because 2011 population census says Assam itself has a transgender population of 11,374 and in comparison to that, enrolment of only 503 transgender in voters list is very low as compared to other states regarding the awareness, helping the third gender to enroll themselves in the voters’ list.”

“Actually, most of the transgender person who is born as a male but later identified as a transgender. It becomes difficult for them to go and start the entire process from changing their name and gender from birth certificate till date, so in that case they need to submit an affidavit, self-declaring oneself as a transgender under certain categories,” added Swati.
Appreciating the initiative taken by the states of Manipur and Mizoram in setting up of separate cells to help transgender in getting their names enrolled in the voter’s list, Swati added that the Assam Election Commission has done “nothing” for the community to register themselves as ‘third gender’, she said.

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