'Stop police violence on transgender persons': Community launches protest in Kerala

The community staged a day-long fast in front of the Secretariat, mainly for the right to assert their identity.
'Stop police violence on transgender persons': Community launches protest in Kerala
'Stop police violence on transgender persons': Community launches protest in Kerala
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Of late, the transgender community in Kerala has come under attack from different quarters. On Wednesday in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the message was loud and clear. Transgender persons won’t tolerate atrocities against them lying down.

They staged a day-long fast in front of the Secretariat - the administrative headquarters of the state, mainly for the right to assert their identity and to stop police atrocities against them.

Sitting at the protest pandal, they sang together loudly, clapping their hands. The song resonated with one message; we have our rights, we will fight for them if we are denied.  They also demanded: stern action against police personnel who book them on false charges, withdrawal of false cases against them and bringing in of a legislation to protect the rights of transgender persons.

In the protest, which began with a march from martyrdom’s column in Palayam, they shouted slogans, most of which were against the police. The march and the protest were prompted by the recent atrocities against the transgender persons in various parts of the state committed by the public or police.  

“What we need is the right to live in our own land. I used to live in Chennai and Mumbai and returned to Kerala two years ago. Like me, most of us want to live in our land. Why is the government not providing identity cards to us, that is the basic issue. Every time, we come face-to-face with those outside our community, it’s a struggle to prove our identity,” Thripthi Shetty told TNM. Thripthi is the first transperson who got the artisan certificate from the Union government and is also the first trans person entrepreneur in the state.  

“Where is the land the government had promised to build homes for us in Kakkanad. Without identity cards, we are not able to cast votes during elections which excludes us from the system,” Thripthi rued.

Faisal Faisu, a trans person from Thrissur, attacked the lackadaisical approach in implementing the transgender policy. “The state implemented the transgender policy two years ago. The government is highlighting the peripheral things they are doing for the transgender community. The police which is controlled by the government has been unleashing a brutal attack on trans persons, arraigning us in false cases,” Faisal said.

Faisal added, “The police did it in Thrissur, in Kochi. At the police station in Kochi when those arrested asked for water, one of the policeman said to take water from the toilet and drink. Now there is the public also to assault us. They have even begun scrutinising our gender. Why has the government even after implementing the transgender policy, not attempted to sensitise the police and the public on what transgender persons actually are.”

Faisal also flayed Social Justice Minister KK Shylaja for failing to understand what the third gender is. “The minister who is holding the portfolio, even saying that we are from a different gender, does not exactly understand who we are. The minister said that she was shocked by the incident at Valiathura in which a trans person was manhandled by a mob. We don’t need such responses, what we need is action,” Faisal said.

Deepthi Rani from Kozhikode said, “Ninety percent of us are not accepted by our families. We have no place to live, no one would rent us a home, nobody will give us jobs. We are not able to step out of home after 10 in the night. When men or women go out in the night, they are not questioned but this problem is faced only by us,” she said.

Sexual and Gender Minority Federation state president Sreekutty in her speech said, “We don’t have shelter. What we demand is the right to prove our identity. In a small state like Kerala where the population is less, what is the big deal in providing identity cards for transgender persons. We are even ready to die in front of the Secretariat.”

The community plans to intensify the protest if their demands are not met.

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