In arguably the first initiative of this kind in Indian politics, the youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI(M)) has launched a transgender-majority unit in Kerala. With nine transgender persons being inducted into the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the unit aims to work on issues faces by trans people.
Called the PMG unit (named after a locality in Kunnukuzhi panchayat), the new unit has transgender persons heading various posts, including that of the president, general secretary, joint president and joint secretary.
DYFI district secretary I Saju told reporters that the federation's decision was to facilitate inclusiveness of transgender persons in the society.
Actor, model and member of Transgender Justice Board, Surya Abhilash, was chosen as the first member of the newly-formed unit and was selected as the President. The registration form of the unit has a "transgender" option in it.
Speaking to TNM, Surya said that the unit was not an "exclusive" forum for transgender persons.
"The majority of the members are from the transgender community, but we also have other men and women members. We believe that representation in a political body will help us reach out to more members of the community and bring them to the mainstream," she said.
Although DYFI is affiliated to the left, Surya points out that the new unit shall be seen more of a group of youth, rather than a political organisation.
"Everybody has their own politics, but only if we consider this unit as a group of young people wanting to work for the community members, will we we able to fulfill our aim," Surya said.
Surya said that she was at the receiving end of abuse and criticism online, after the news of the new unit came out.
"People who appreciated me as an artist, discouraged me from this. It means that there are people who are scared of us, our freedom. That makes it all the more important for us to have more visibility and representation," Surya said.
Syama S Prabha, who was earlier awarded a scholarship reserved for transgender persons by the Kerala state government, was elected as the secretary of the unit.
She told TNM that by forming the new unit with members of the community, DYFI has fulfilled a long-standing demand.
"There are so many issues our community members face on a daily basis. Be it in the field of education and employment or other facilities...we have seen how we are denied all these. For people and the administration to notice our plight, we believe it is important for us to be part of such organisation. It is not just a political organisation, but an organisation that intends to bring the transgender persons to the mainstream," Syama said.
The newly-formed unit will hold its first meeting on Thursday.