Transgender Activisim spurs Assam TG Board Plan

Guwahati: Assam in the process of framing a state policy for  transgendered people, as directed by the Supreme Court to all states in 2014.

A committee constituted by the Assam social welfare department, suggested in a recent meeting that the Kerala policy may be adopted as a benchmark while framing a state policy for welfare of the transgender community.

The committee, with representatives of government departments and gender activists was set up following a PIL filed in Gauhati High Court by Swati Bidhan Baruah,  president of the All Assam Transgender Association, in March last year.

The Kerala state policy adopted in 2015 calls for a just society where men, women and transgenders have equal access to development opportunities, resources and benefits, right to live with dignity and enjoy a life free from all forms of violence, right to freedom of expression in all matters that affects them, right to equal voice in development decisions that shape their lives, communities and state.

It made provisions for government departments and public authorities to extend a non-discriminatory treatment to transgenders and to provide barrier-free access to education, public transport, health and social service.

Sources said the chairman of the committee and director of the social welfare department, Assam, Minakshi Sundaram, also stressed that the Kerala model could be followed as a benchmark while adopting a state policy.

The 25-member committee had been divided into sub-groups to work out details on having “a comprehensive policy” to take care of the problems confronting the third gender.

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A local English daily quoting sources reported that Baruah had recently proposed a draft policy that calls for state-level and district level welfare boards for the transgender, issue identity cards to the transgenders by a government agency, provide social protection, proper education, healthcare, reservation in jobs, educational institutions, public sanitation, housing, a barrier-free access to public transport, parks, railway stations among others.

Sources in the department said the committee would go through the suggestions and proposals before having a draft policy and inform the high court in an affidavit.

In the PIL, Baruah, who heads an organisation of more than 5,400 transgenders in the state, had complained that the Supreme Court’s directive to all states to take welfare measures has not been implemented in Assam.