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Kerala Sets an Example Yet Again, Forms First-ever Cooperative Society for Transgenders

Shilpa Shaji |
Though the government has stood with them through its various policies, the transgender community still has a long way to go towards gender equality.
Kerala forms first even Cooperative society for transgenders in India

Kerala, the state that has always spearheaded social reforms, has once again set an example by building a co-operative society for the transgender community in the state.

In a bid to end the injustice against the “third-gender”, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government formed a cooperative society exclusively for transgenders. The formation of the cooperative society for the transgender people, for the first time in India, came up as the part of the LDF government’s welfare schemes for improving the social status of transgenders.

The cooperative society, Trans Welfare Cooperative Society, which intends to bring the community to the “mainstream” of the society, was formed on Wednesday. The official launch of the society is expected on July 15. Kadakampalli Surendran, minister for Cooperation, Tourism and Devaswom in the state, announced the formation of cooperative society in March this year at the 8th conference of corporative societies.

Read More: Kerala Budget 2018-19: How the Left is Forging an Alternative

“This pioneering venture is aimed at elevating the status of the community by helping them to become self-employed and independent. The LDF government, so far, launched many programmes to eliminate the social stigma attached to the community”, the minister said at Wednesday’s formation meeting.

The primary objective of the society is to lend financial assistance to the transgender community. The members of the society also would commit social works, participate in festival markets, conduct health camps and focus on self-employment programmes. The Society would make investments to support the community in self-employment and to become a part of society.

“Financially backing the community, the society would facilitate self-empowerment ventures such as hotels, canteens, beauty parlours among others that help the community to be financially independent,” said Shyama S Prabha, a transgender person, who has been elected as the chief promoter within a seven-member committee for the functioning of the society.

Apart from these, it was decided that temporary shelter homes, under the corporative society, would be launched for the transgenders who had been abandoned by their families.

Kerala, in 2015, under the then United Democratic Front (UDF) government, adopted a “State Policy for Transgenders” that calls for a society where men, women and transgenders have equal access to capabilities, economic opportunities, assets and services, right to dignity and freedom from violence and right to expression.

“Though the transgender policy was adopted by the UDF government, it hadn’t served its purpose. However, the current government has done far more than the previous government and implemented so many schemes for our community,” said Shyama while talking about the Transgender Policy 2015.

“As the part of the transgender policy, the current government has implemented so many policies for the transgender community,” Shyama added.

On January 10, 2017, Kerala had set up the country’s first justice board for transgenders that deals the cases of the transgender people, provides legal assistance and works to put an end to the discrimination against the community.

Reflecting the transgender policy of the state, a daylong athletic meet was held on April 28, 2017. The state sports council held the meet, a first in the country. Again, on May 23, an exclusive clinic for the transgenders was opened in Government Medical College, Kottayam. That was the first of its kind in the public sector hospitals in India.

Read More: Resurgent Public Sector, Lakhs of New Jobs Mark Two Years of LDF Govt

In May 2017, kicking away the social stigma over the community, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited had recruited 23 transgenders, taking another step forward towards gender equality. Deploying the transgenders in different sections of the work, for the first time a government-owned company in the state showed how inclusiveness works.

As per a government study in 2015, 58 percent of transgender students drop out before completing 10th grade. Severe harassment is the main reason behind such large rate of dropouts. As part of its efforts to bring the transgender community to the forefront of society and ensure equal opportunities, the state government had initiated a programme Samanwaya in January 2017. Samanwaya was rolled out by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) focusing on the continuous education of members of the transgender community.

Again, the LDF regime in the state that had announced monthly pension, in its first budget in 2016, for transgenders above sixty, earmarked Rs 10 crore, in its 2018 budget, for the welfare of the community.

“As the government stands with the community with various policies, the public’s attitude towards us is somewhat changing positively. Still, we have long ways to go,” said Shyama.

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