Transgender rights in Tamil Nadu

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Transgender people are called hijdas in India and are often discriminated against in jobs forcing them to resort to begging and prostitution. They meet in Koovagam, a village in the Ulundurpet taluk in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May) for an annual festival which takes place for fifteen days.

Tamil Nadu has an estimated population of 30,000 transgender people.[1] It has made great strides in trying to integrate transgender people into society. This includes welfare schemes initiated by the Government and acceptance of transgender people into the mainstream media and film industry.

Welfare schemes[edit]

In a pioneering effort to solve the problems faced by transgender people, the government of Tamil Nadu (a state in South India) established a transgender welfare board in April 2008. Social welfare minister will serve as the president of the board. This effort is touted to be the first in India and even in the world. The government has also started issuing separate food ration cards for transgender people.[2]

In additional effort to improve the education of transgender people, Tamil Nadu government also issued an order on May 2008 to create a third gender for admissions to government colleges.[3]

The Government has also decided to conduct a census on the transgender population in order to issue identity cards.[4]


In a monumental push in breaking taboos, the Tamil cable channel Vijay TV started a talk show hosted by a trans woman called Rose. The programme is called "Ippadikku Rose", translated into Yours Truly, Rose.[5]

Karpaga, a transgender person born in Erode, Tamil Nadu performs a lead role in a new Tamil movie "Paal", thus becoming the first in India ever to achieve such a milestone.[6] Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender person born in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu performs a lead role in a new Tamil movie "Narthagi".[7]


A telephone helpline called "Manasu" ("Heart" in English) (0091-44-25990505) was set up by Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative-Voluntary Health Services (TAI-VHS) for members of the transgender community, their families and the public. It functions between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and was launched by V. K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary of Health Department of Tamil Nadu. Subburaj launched the services in March 2009 and said it will be helpful in finding employment for transgender people.[8]

Sahodari Foundation is an organization working for the transgender rights. Founded in 2007, Sahodari Foundation is a well known organization in India for its creative and alternative advocacy methods.[9]

Srishti Madurai launched India's first helpline for Genderqueer, LGBTQIA in October 2 2011 at Madurai. Later in June 2013 the helpline turned to offer service for 24 hours with a tagline "Just having someone understanding to talk to can save a life".[10]

Transgender in Indian Politics[edit]

Shabnam Mausi is the first transgender Indian or hijra to be elected to public office. She was an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.In 2000 Shabnam Mausi became India's first eunuch MP.(Hijras were granted voting rights in 1994 in India.) In 2003, Hijras in Madhya Pradesh have announced establishing their own political party called "Jeeti Jitayi Politics" (JJP), which literally means 'politics that has already been won'. The party has also released an eight-page election manifesto which it claims outlines why it is different from mainstream political parties.[11]

Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender rights activist, writer and an actor,In the 2011 assembly elections, Kalki tried in vain to get a DMK ticket.[12] Again on March 2014 Kalki announced in Puducherry that she would contest in this election from Villupuram constituency in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. She is likely to be among the very few contestants fighting in the national elections from the transgender community that faces discrimination and ridicule.[13]

Gender issue in TNPSC and UPSC[edit]

Transgender Swapna and gender activist Gopi Shankar from Srishti Madurai[14] staged the protest in Madurai collectorate on 7th October 2013 demanding reservation and to permit alternate genders to appear for examinations conducted by TNPSC, UPSC, SSC and Bank Exams.Swapna, incidentally, had successfully moved the Madras High Court in 2013 seeking permission to write the TNPSC Group II exam as a ‘woman’ candidate. Swapna is the first trans person to clear TNPSC Group IV exams.[15]

See also[edit]