When an entire demographic category of voters doubles in size, the first thought leads to corruption and scandal. But in this case, the thought is that there should be even more.
The nation is India and the demographic in question is the transgender voting population.
According to data available with the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), transgender voter registration has doubled from the previous Assembly elections and 4,552 have registered this year in the State. But is this a good representation of the community? India's transgender community numbers 4.8 million, according to data from the latest round of the census.
Among the first-time voters is a senior citizen from the community, Jagadamba, 65. She was disowned by her family at the age of 14 and she went to Mumbai where she was forced to beg and engage in sex work to eke out a living.
“I didn’t want to do it anymore. I came back home but my family refused to accept me. I have been living with my community members in Bengaluru. Last month, I was told about voter registration and I finally got my card. I had no idea about the process of voting, before this,” she said. - thehindu.com
How many of us register to vote and don't follow through? A great amount of us for one reason or another. But if you are transgender, showing up on voting day may involve more than our simple excuses. These could range from ridicule and discrimination, name calling, and physical threats.
But then as we know, not everyone that is transgender will register as a transgender voter. Some have most likely registered as male or female, not wanting to draw attention to being different or becoming a statistic or being discriminated against.
There is also the fact that before you register as a transgender voter, you will have to have the correct paperwork stating that you are transgender and that may be just too many steps out into the spotlight for some people to take.
But it is important for the Indian transgender community to have voters take part in the process. Stand and be counted! If you are not counted, then no one will know you are there.
Bravo for India and its doubling the number of transgender voters. But with a population of 1.3 billion, a transgender population of possibly 4.8 million and now just over 4,500 registered transgender voters, there is still a long way to go. But we in the West may be looking for pointers soon.
Next time you look at any forms, consider looking to see the variety of options.
We still live in a very binary world.
Many forms and policies still only deal with (cis) male or (cis) female.
Have you filled out any forms recently or even in your lifetime that have the word transgender on it? or even "other"?
Or more than the male or female options for gender identification?