Thursday, June 17, 2021
HomeAsiaHistory Made as transgender women are elected to lead Towns in India

History Made as transgender women are elected to lead Towns in India

Devika Akka
Devika Akka rejoices in victory!

Transgender women are being elected to leadership positions comparable to ‘Mayor’ in recent elections in southern India.

Devika Akka,46, was unanimously elected president of the Gram Panchayat and Sudha Revanna president of another town in the southwestern state of Karnataka.

“Cast aside and marginalized,” News Minute reports, “trans peeps are typically accustomed to using their wits to survive. Devika, a transgender woman from Mysuru, was no different. But the residents in her area — in Mysuru’s Saligrama panchayat — believed in her, encouraged, and then empowered her to bring about a change.”

British imperial occupiers deemed India’s transgender people untouchable, ruling that they were the lowest cast, Dalits, members of illegal tribes, and worked openly for their extinction.

Ms. Devika, a member of the scheduled caste, was elected from ward number 7, a position reserved for women, in Saligrama panchayat in the Karnataka Gram Panchayat elections in 2020. She secured 115 votes, defeating her closest rival Yashoda by five votes.

Sudha Revanna
Devika Akka was elected as the Gram Panchayat president, and President Sudha Revanna, a trans woman from the village of Rajapura, on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021. They are pictured with council members in Saligrama, Mysuru district. Photo Deccan Herald

We Are Not The Others” an art show by Kalki Subramaniam is being held at Bangalore International Centre, Domlur, till Feb. 7.

Devika was born in Chunchanakatte in the Mysuru district. However, like many others in her community, she was forced to leave her home before adulthood. At age 16 she found work in Ghatkopar, a suburb in eastern Mumbai, living with members of the transgender community.

“I survived by begging. I lived with my friends but I kept visiting my home in Saligrama,” she said.

This is what these women have had to overcome.

10 Indian Trans People Who Are Breaking Barriers

Devika is not the only one transgender woman making waves in local elections this year, reports News 18. Sudha Revanna, a 35-year-old transgender woman, won the Gram Panchayat Elections from Rajapura village in Kallahalli GP in Hospet Taluk, Bellary. Mamatha from Chennapatna also won the Panchayat polls from Kudluru GP.

Transgender community in Karnataka

Karnataka has a population of 70,000 transgender persons, according to a report in The Indian Express in 2019. This is not the first time that members of the community have grabbed headlines for breaking records. In December, India’s first children’s homes for transgender kids were proposed in Bengaluru. The two facilities will be run by the government and can accommodate 50 children each.

In 2014 hundreds of trans people were arrested and charged with “beggary” ar Bangalores first Trans Pride Parade.

Karnataka is also home to Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, the state’s first trans woman doctor whose story of resilience and courage has inspired many in the trans community.

Devika’s victory is a step in the right direction following years of grievances and demands by the LGBTQIA community, many of whom still do not have the right to vote. In 2017, the Karnataka state government adopted the Karnataka State Policy on Transgenders, 2017, a policy that activists felt was a step in the right direction. And yet, not a single transgender candidate was able to contest the May 2018 Assembly elections in Karnataka.

The gravity of this made clear when a friend from Italy retweeted the Logical Indian article saying “Even in India they are ahead of us in terms of inclusiveness of people #transgender in public roles !!”

Kelli Busey
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender