Transgender Survey Kerala 2014-15

FOCUS

This report was published in 2015 by Sangama, a Bengaluru-based organisation working with sexuality minorities. It contains the results of a survey on the transgender community in Kerala, carried out on behalf of the state’s Social Justice Department.

On April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court passed a judgement recognising transgenders as a third gender with all “legal and constitutional protection.” The government of Kerala initiated this survey as part of its initiatives for the welfare of the transgender community in the state.

The objective of the survey was to create a ‘census’ of transgender persons in the state, study their socioeconomic and psychological status, and help devise welfare measures for their health, education, housing, employment and protection. The survey questionnaire was finalised on December 10, 2014, after which transgender community leaders from across districts were entrusted with the task of administering it. As many as 3,619 responses were recorded and compiled – 95.98 per cent of the participants being below 45 years of age.

This 61-page report is divided into three main sections: Introduction (section 1); Questionnaire Preparation, Community Consultation and Training of Field Investigators (section 2); and Results (section 3).

    FACTOIDS

  1. An overwhelming majority of the respondents were transgender women (99 per cent). This is because it is easier for those assigned as males at birth to leave their families and communities, realise their identity and live independently. The report states that transgender persons born as women often fail to get this opportunity “due to the patriarchal norms of the society.”

  2. The survey also found that the transgender community is uniformly spread across the major religions and caste categories in Kerala. About 39 per cent of the respondents belonged to Other Backward Classes, 28 per cent were from Scheduled Castes, seven per cent were from Scheduled Tribes, and 26 per cent belonged to other communities.

  3. The transgender community in Kerala has a high number of school dropouts and few members in higher education. As many as 58 per cent of respondents dropped out of schools before completing the tenth standard. The reasons for discontinuing education include severe harassment at school, lack of reservation and an unsupportive home environment.

  4. About 54 per cent of respondents reported having a monthly income of less than Rs. 5,000 and only 11.6 per cent had regular jobs and a stable income.

  5. Over half of the survey respondents – 54 per cent – had been married against their wishes. About 85 per cent of these respondents married due to family compulsions, 14 per cent due to pressure from relatives, and one per cent because of pressure from friends.

  6. About 28 per cent of the respondents were subjected to sexual harassment or forced sex in the preceding year.

  7. As per the report, 23 per cent of the respondents had to shift to other districts after their gender identity was revealed due to issues relating to gender and discrimination.

  8. Only two per cent of the respondents reported having a PAN card, four per cent had a driving license, and just seven per cent had a passport. The report states that 76 per cent of respondents were unable to register the gender identity of their preference in any government identification card.

  9. A staggering share of the respondents – 32 per cent – had attempted to commit suicide in their lifetime. In the past one year, 19 per cent of the respondents had felt like hurting or injuring themselves.

  10. Police harassment is a major concern in the transgender community, with 52 per cent of respondents stating that they have had to face such harassment in the past. About 70 per cent reported that they “are not confident” to approach the police.

  11. The report states that all government departments and public authorities must extend non-discriminatory treatment to transgender persons, and that free legal aid should be provided to community members who seek redressal. It recommends taking disciplinary action against police officers and other authorities who violate the rights of transgender people.

  12. The report suggests that transgender persons be included in the free health insurance schemes provided for BPL (below poverty line) households by the central and state governments. It states that health insurance cards should be issued to all transgender persons.

  13. Government hospitals should conduct training and sensitisation programmes for healthcare professionals to ensure a non-discriminatory approach towards transgender people – states the report.

  14. It notes that educational institutions should include ‘transgender’ on all forms as an option along with ‘male’ and ‘female’. They should prepare transgender policies and establish anti-discrimination cells.

  15. The report recommends that ‘self-employment grants’ be made available for transgender people. Moreover, workplaces – in both the public and private sector – must establish anti-discrimination policies. The report also states that sexual harassment policies in the workplace should be trans-inclusive.


    Focus and factoids by S. Mukundan.

AUTHOR

Sangama, Bengaluru

COPYRIGHT

Social Justice Department, Government of Kerala

PUBLICATION DATE

2015

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