Lakshmi is a third gender and slightly over 50 years of age. When the Supreme Court of India gave its verdict in 2014, she and the other transgenders saw a ray of hope, many thought it would change their life but little happened.
Why the law?
Transgenders were given the third gender status in the year 2014, and till today the situation hasn't improved much. Transgenders in our country face discrimination on a daily basis- be it in hospitals, shops, roads, everywhere. An entire community is into begging and flesh trade, since ages, because they have no other option. Though the third gender status has brought benefits with respect to jobs and identity but, transgenders continue to suffer because they are unaware of these advantages. Their journey towards development and upliftment is still a long one; many don't know the relevance of the status given, many have no idea that there was a verdict given by the Supreme Court in this regard three years ago.
There are too many laws
Saying that the decision hasn't improved anything would be wrong; the transgenders have been able to get the Aadhar Card, Voter ID etc. made. Many of them who applied for the ID, got them in 2014-15 itself. Apart from that, there is no improvement as such. They are now eligible to apply for jobs, but are they really eligible considering they have never gone to any school? They have gotten the status just now, but what about the years that have passed when they were growing up? What about the older ones in this community, how will they get employed? What about the young kids, who have been disowned by their families, but have never been enrolled in school.
The third gender is one of the most discriminated against
They get no formal education, let alone the 'required/desirable' qualifications. They are beggars and sex workers with voter IDs, that's the only difference now. They are denied healthcare services. They avoid going to government hospitals because they are poked and pointed at. One of them (refused to reveal name), who was interviewed said "we abuse and of course one is bound to if there is constant finger pointing and laughing. We also feel bad. We too get hurt." Then the other said, "we go to private hospitals, though it costs us more, but they don't ill-treat us and provide us aid immediately." They also added, "people just come, talk and go! They say they will come back and do something for us but they never come back."
They are the victims of stereotyping, discrimination and what not. They are discouraged by people like us, if they (at all) try to find job alternatives, or go to schools for formal education.
"We would love to do a dignified, nice job. Who likes to beg? We also don't like to, but we have no option. Only if we had better options", Lakshmi said, before she moved to other vehicles for begging at the traffic signal.
The 2014 verdict has given them the status, only; but that is not sufficient for a better, dignified life. The voter IDs, Aadhar Cards, pan Cards are the identification proofs required for opening bank accounts etc., but they can't provide jobs on their own. The community needs more.
The efforts have to be made from our side as well, as there is a community that has always existed but we choose to turn a blind eye towards them. After all, they are also the citizens of this country and are entitled to the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution; just because they don't fight and hardly have any political representatives from their community, does not mean that the so-called "commoners "can't fight for them and make situations better for them. It has to be a combined effort.