“The decision in this regard has been taken based on the finding that it will be beneficial for transgender people,” Health Minister KK Shailaja said.

Tranagender people lighting candle during night in Thiruvananthapuram File Image
news Transgender Rights Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:15

The Kerala government has issued order to revise all application forms to include 'transgender', 'trans woman' and 'trans man' as gender options. State Minister for Health and Social Justice KK Shailaja made the announcement in a press statement on Monday. “This will be yet another recognition for the progress of the transgender community,”  the minister noted.

Kerala instituted a state policy for transgender persons in 2015, on the back of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs. Union of India judgment of 2014 (popularly known as the NALSA judgment). The policy has been hailed by many for providing support to trans persons in employment, education, housing, health etc.

The policy also upheld the self-identification of transgender persons as male, female or transgender – however it did not reflect in its implementation initially. The state faced criticism in 2018 when they brought out ‘transgender identity cards’ which did not allow for self-identification, forcing people to only pick ‘transgender’. With the latest announcement, Kerala seems to have corrected these issues with more options in application forms including ‘trans woman’ and ‘trans man’. It is unclear if trans persons will be allowed to check on ‘male’ or ‘female’ if they so wish.

“The decision in this regard has been taken based on the finding that it will be beneficial for transgender people. The identity of transgender persons is clearly explained in the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019,” the statement said. 

On January 14, the state government had issued an order allotting scholarships for 100 transgender people under 'Samanwaya,' a continuing education programme. A scholarship amount of Rs 10.71 lakh in total had been allotted for transgender persons who register for continuing education through the Kerala State Literacy Mission.

In December 2020 the Social Justice Department had set aside Rs 6 lakh for giving scholarships for transgender people. The scholarship is for students from Class 7 to Post Graduate and professional courses who study in the state government, government aided and self-financing educational institutions.

In December the government had also declared that the financial assistance for wedding of transgender couple will continue. As per this, Rs 30,000 each will be given to ten transgender couples.

The Health Department in December had allotted Rs 59,06,800 for HIV serosurveillance centre of transgender people.

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