Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to provide reservations to transgender persons in the local body polls as an initial measure aimed at bringing them into mainstream society.
“Each and every living being is a gift. Gifts may be wrapped in various colours, designs and appearances and these gifts spring up with countless surprises. It is the same with each one of us. The level of mental and social pressure faced by such distinctive community of people can only be understood by an empathetic mind,” said Justice S.M. Subramaniam.
“We are all brought up in different social, religious, ideological and economic backgrounds. Differences are inevitable, but an understanding of this diversity is essential for a harmonious societal structure. Gender is what we believe ourselves to be, it is a self identified factor. To accept this requires an education and awareness centred on harmonious living,” the judge added.
He went on to say: “Why we are unable to remove this social injustice? Why are we not able to accept the differences within us? The answer is well known. The mind is failing to accept the truth which our conscience already knows.”
The judge pointed out that the very society that considers the transgender persons to be the ones who bring good luck, and tends seeks their blessings on auspicious occasions, also treats them with contempt on other occasions.
A societal change could be brought about only if the transgender persons were provided with a platform to speak about their needs and rights, the judge said. He also said such a platform could be created by extending reservations for them in law-making institutions. It could begin with the local bodies, he added.
The judge also directed the Cuddalore Collector to initiate steps under the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994, to remove the Nainakuppam panchayat president N.D. Mohan and its members for having passed a resolution against the granting of free house site pattas to transgender persons.
He further directed the Collector to ensure that the transgender community beneficiaries in the village get free house site pattas based on their eligibility and that they also get to participate in all village ceremonies and festivals besides enjoying the right to worship at all religious institutions.