CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi has urged prime minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that the transgender community is also enumerated in the Census 2011.
Describing the massive exercise as a milestone since the first ever National Population Registry was going to be prepared, Karunanidhi, in a letter to the prime minister on Saturday, sought that necessary provision be made in the census format to enumerate trangenders. “There are a number of persons in the country, who are called transgenders. I suggest that they may also be enumerated and necessary provision may be made in the format,” he said.
The move is seen as yet another initiative of the state government to draw transgenders into the social mainstream. Tamil Nadu has taken several pioneering initiatives for the welfare of this community in recent months. Tamil Nadu was the first state to form a welfare board for transgenders in 2008, headed by the social welfare minister. The state government also issued separate ration cards to transgenders. Tamil Nadu government also added the option of third gender in the application forms of state-run schools and colleges for unhindered admission of transsexuals in educational institutions.
Transgenders see the appeal by Karunanidhi as an effort to recognize their third gender status. “It is a welcome move if we are enumerated as transgenders during the census. But the enumerating staff should be adequately sensitized about our community. There is a misconception even among government officials that transgenders will dress only like a woman,” said P Kajol, secretary of Aravanigal Rights and Rehabilitation Centre.
A government official admitted that awareness about transgenders and their rights increased only in the last decade. “May be transgenders were enumerated as women during the last census,” he said. Karunanidhi has also appealed to the prime minister to bring pavement dwellers, who are usually left out during census, into the ambit of enumeration.