Transgender candidate for India’s legislature forced to run as a male

Jaysawal Naresh Babulal
Lok Sabha
Jaysawal Naresh Babulal

The first transgender candidate from India’s westernmost state for the Lok Sabha (the lower house), Jaysawal Naresh Babulal, said that she would contest the election, even though she forced to register as a male.

“No political party would accept my candidature, hence I confidently walked to the district collector, the Election Commission’s Returning Officer, to file as an independent candidate,” said Jaysawal. “Unfortunately I could not submit my name as a transgender, but as a male”, rues Raju Mataji, as she is popularly called.

The Lok Sabha (House of the People) is the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament, with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha.

Jaysawal Naresh Babulal is one of four candidates running for a seat in The Lok Sabha. These transgender candidates come from across castes and regions, reports Hindustan Times. They come from Gujarat in the west and Tamil Nadu in the south to Odisha in the east and Uttar Pradesh in the north. They represent the rapid strides made by the marginalized community barely five years after the Supreme Court upheld their rights in a landmark judgment, known as Nalsa vs Union of India.

As you can imagine, Jaysawal isn’t the only transgender candidate to encounter bias.

Lok Sabha
Aswathi Rajappan

Aswathi Rajappan had barely stepped out of the house early on Sunday in Kerala’s Ernakulam town when a group of local policemen called out. They ring-fenced Rajappan and a friend and asked what they were doing in a public place. When told that the 25-year-old engineering graduate was an independent candidate in the ongoing general elections from the city, the policemen laughed.

“They threw insults at me, they said I didn’t look like a candidate, and the impression I gave was that of a criminal because of my skin colour. What is this impression but bias? This is why I am fighting the election.”

Rajappan was stirred to join politics because of the high rates of crime against transgender people and a commitment to anti-caste principles.

Rajappan, who identifies as a Dalit intersex person and uses the pronoun ‘ze’ (instead of he or she), is one of a small group of transgender people fighting the Lok Sabha elections.

Despite not participating in Lok Sabha polls, Chhattisgarh’s transgender community is slowly changing the electoral landscape First Post proudly reports.

When Raipur district administration featured Vidya Rajput in its video appealing to voters to exercise their franchise in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, it was a big step by the so-called mainstream society in gender inclusivity. “Meri ungli taiyyar hai (My finger is ready to cast vote),” Rajput exhorts voters to cast their votes in a video released by the Election Commission (above).

Vidya Rajput

Rajput is a transgender activist and getting her right in the front row was a pointer to the gradually broadening social mindsets in the country. At least in Chhattisgarh, transgender people are increasingly becoming a part of the political field. Veena Sendre, ‘Miss Transqueen 2018’, is from the small town of Mandir Hasaud near Raipur and she joined the Congress in Chhattisgarh formally in February this year.

Madhu Kinnar is the mayor of Raigarh municipal corporation in Chhattisgarh.

Madhu Kinnar, who earned a living by singing in Howrah-Mumbai trains scripted history by winning civic polls in Chhattisgarh, defeating nearest rival from ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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