Extension of Transgender relief under covid-19: plea before the Tamil Nadu HC

Extension of Transgender relief under covid-19: plea before the Tamil Nadu HC

A plea has been filed in the Hon’ble Tamil Nadu High Court by advocating Jayna Kothari and advocate Prabhu Chinnaswamy on behalf of the transgender community in the state of Tamil Nadu. The community has been represented by Grace Banu Ganeshan, who has come up with the Public Interest Litigation in the Hon’ble court. The Hon’ble Madras High Court bench, consisting of Hon’ble Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice Sethilkumar Ramamoorthy, has issued a notice as a positive response to the plea. 

The petition deals with the rights of the transgender community in the state especially under the current situation of the second wave of covid-19. The state government had earlier notified that the transgender people who will be having a ration card will be given a cash relief of four thousand rupees. However, there have been multiple issues regarding this decision. First of all, as per the reports of various reliable surveys, the transgender population of the state exceeds fifty thousand whereas the government records have registered only eleven thousand four hundred and forty-nine of them. Out of these people also, not all have been given a ration card. Only about two thousand five hundred and forty-one people have been able to get a ration card issued for themselves. Even these people have often been at the receiving end when it came to procuring the money that they have been constitutionally guaranteed by the state. 

It has been so reported that the portal had not been responding to the applications in the past two years. There have been multiple issues due to which the Hon’ble court feels the need to extend the monetary relief also to those members of the community who do not have a ration card.

Most importantly, it is a known fact that the transgender community has been harassed and humiliated by society at large for eons due to unfounded dogmas and prejudices. The same has been continuing even after the squashing of section 377. Some of these people might also be going through sex reassignment surgeries or might be under hormone treatment. Such procedures are extremely costly. Many of the transgender people are not accepted in their households as a result of which they are rendered homeless. Most transgender people are socially and economically backwards and need assistance to survive. It is under part four of the constitution, that the government should strive to uplift the downtrodden and minority sections of the society through social and economic sanctions. Some of the transgender people have been reported to be suffering from aids which is an additional vulnerability to covid 19. When it comes to registration, many of the people of this community are not even aware of the benefits as there has not been enough campaigning or awareness programming to ensure that they know how to reap the benefits that the state grants them. These people are not well versed in the online registration process and the use of the internet. Therefore, the Hon’ble court has observed that the possession of only the gender identity card or any government identity card should be enough to get cash relief from the state. This much security has to be maintained so that the facilities are not misused. The Hon’ble court has also asked the government to provide the advance of two thousand rupees within May 2021. It is also a contention that most of the transgender population is illiterate and does not have access to proper medical facilities. The Hon’ble court has requested the state to book special vaccine slots for the transgender community of the state. Along with this, other provisions are also being amended to make sure that the community is well taken care of by the state.

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