When 35-year-old Sisily George, a trans woman from Kozhikode, got her new voter ID with her chosen name, she was thrilled to be the first state recognised trans woman voter from the district. But Sisily’s happiness was short lived as her new voter ID had misgendered her yet again.
“I had specifically requested that I be identified as a transgender woman/female in my ID. But when I got it, it is mentioned as third gender, a term I do not identify with,” she tells TNM.
On February 28, two days after she received the ID, Sisily approached the Kozhikode collectorate to get the document rectified. She is now determined to get her corrected voter ID before the polling day.
“I ran from pillar to post for about six months to get this ID. I had to get my TG Identity card (given by Kerala), my Aadhaar, and a photograph to apply for the voter ID. I visited the Gazette office multiple times to get my documents changed, I visited the Chief Electoral Officer’s office a few times to get the voter ID. But now, it is useless as I am still misgendered in the ID proof,” Sisily, who is the founder of the Punarjani Cultural Society, which works for trans rights in Kozhikode, told TNM.
The 2014 NALSA judgement declared that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people. It is also gave the trans community the right to self-identification, be it male, female or third gender.
Why ‘third’ gender?
Sisily states that she has a problem with being identified as ‘third gender’, as it implies that the trans community comes third – after ‘male’ and ‘female’.
“If we are the ‘third gender’ then what are cis men – ‘first’ gender? Are women the ’second’ gender and do they come only after men? I don’t want to be relegated to the third position as I believe that I have equal rights as men and women and therefore should receive the same opportunities and respect that these two genders get,” she says.
Sisily also adds that for most members of the trans community, the Transgender ID card or TG card is the only identity proof they carry. Hence, it is imperative that the state issue accurate identity proofs when they apply.
“Many of my community members have run away from their homes or are school dropouts. They don’t have any proper certificates with them barring their TG cards. Many of them are also scared to get their certificates and ID proofs changed as they fear backlash from society. Therefore, the state should be careful when issuing ID proofs to them,” she adds.