Trans rights activist Rakshika Raj has written to the Tamil Nadu government, asking that the Pongal gift of Rs 2,500 promised to ration card holders in the state also be given to members of the trans community who have an approved transgender ID card.
Many members of the transgender community in Tamil Nadu do not have access to a ration card, Rakshika pointed out.
"Government order should be issued for availing the Pongal Gift (Rs. 2500) announced by our honourable Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami with the approved transgender ID card provided by Social Welfare Department," the letter said.
"We request to speed up the process of issuing the Consumer Smart Card (ration card) for the Transgender community," added the letter.
Rakshika, a trans woman and a nurse in Chennai, said that the transgender community in particular has been hit hard by the pandemic since most members do not have a consumer smart card. This means that transgender persons will not be able to avail the cash benefit of Rs 2,500 given to ration card holders.
On Monday, the Tamil Nadu government began distributing the cash benefit of Rs 2,500 to ration card holders along with gift hampers. 2.06 crore ration card holders are set to receive the cash benefit and a gift hamper through the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) shops in Tamil Nadu. The gift hamper consists of a sugarcane along with 1 kg rice, 1 kg sugar, nuts and cardamom.
Rakshika noted that many transgender persons will miss out on receiving the hampers and the cash benefit due to the lack of a ration card.
She said that the state government had given Rs 1,000 to members of the community during the lockdown period as a relief amount by checking their ID card. She suggested that similarly, Rs 2,500 cash benefit should be given to members of the transgender community.
Rakshika was also involved in raising funds through crowdfunding to help transgender persons during the lockdown.