Twenty three-year-old Daya Gayathri’s voice was brimming with excitement as she spoke to TNM over the phone one evening. “I am feeling proud that as a trans woman, I am getting an opportunity to vote in the Lok Sabha elections,” says Daya, a first-year student of Bachelors in Malayalam at the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam. As Kerala goes to polls on April 23 for the 17th Lok Sabha elections, Daya will be casting her vote for the first time.
“It is only after the CPI(M)-led Left government came to power in Kerala that the LGBTQI+ community and its members started receiving some support and opportunities to come forward to the mainstream,” says Daya, a native of Angamaly. Daya, who will be voting in the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency, says that as far as the transgender community in Kerala is concerned, their hopes are pinned on the Left as they have come up with various measures for the upliftment of the community.
“I am an example of a person from the transgender community who has benefitted from the schemes put forward by the Left government,” she says, adding that the Kerala government is providing transgender students with a scholarship of Rs 20,000 per year.
“Along with this, we are also provided with Rs 4,000 per month as hostel rent, which makes it Rs 40,000 as rent for one entire academic year,” Daya explains. She says that the Kerala government has also passed an order, which stated that there should be a 2% reservation for transgender students in all colleges in the state.
Along with pursuing her studies, Daya is also a model and a theatre artist. She will be walking the ramp at the Kozhikode Fashion Week on April 12.
Daya feels that the members of the transgender communities have started receiving more job opportunities in the state, because of which, they have slowly started receiving acceptance in society.
But the 23-year-old says that there is still a long battle ahead for the members of the community. “We still do not have the freedom to get married. If there is some party that I believe can give us this right, it is the Left,” she says.
Daya is proud that 25-year-old Chinju Aswathi Rajappan, a Dalit, intersex person, will be contesting from the Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency in the upcoming elections as an independent. “This is a great achievement. It doesn’t matter whether Aswathi wins or not; I would like to wish Chinju all the very best,” says Daya.