Notable transgender activist Dr Akkai Padmashali has joined the Karnataka unit of the Congress party on Sept 20. Akkai is the first from the sexual minority community to join the party’s state ranks with the likes of Apsara Reddy, who in January 2019, was appointed as the National General Secretary of All India Mahila Congress.
- First from sexual minority community to join congress’ karnataka unit
- First transgender person to be conferred with Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
- Invited by Kerala government to receive draft of the transgender policy in 2015
- Runs an organisation that aims to create awareness about sexual diversity & right to choose one’s sexual orientation
- Akkai Padmashali & Vasu are first transgender married couple to legally adopt a child
DK Shivakumar, KPCC president welcomed Padmashali into the party fold and said that Akkai can become a mainstream leader rather than just a representative for sexual minorities.
Akkai said that she chose Congress as she was inspired by Late PM Indira Gandhi who initiated free train travel for the transgender community, ensured free food, and provided shelter for the community members during her term.
About 50 members from the transgender community were also present at the party office when Dr. Padmashali was inducted.
The transgender community is one of the most marginalized communities in the country because they do not fit into the general categories of the gender of ‘male’ or ‘female’. Under 2014 ruling, transgender people were to be treated as a “third gender” and their rights safeguarded under the Constitution.
However, according to National Human Rights Commission report, about 92 percent of transgenders are deprived of the right to participate in any form of economic activity in the country, with even qualified ones refused jobs. Shockingly, 96 percent of transgenders are denied jobs and are forced to take low paying or undignified work for livelihood like badhais, sex work and begging.
The total population of transgenders according to the 2011 Census is 4.8 lakh; only 30,000 are registered with the Election Commission. However, estimates suggest there are 50 to 60 lakh transgenders in India but most keep it a secret to avoid discrimination.
Among all the states, only in Tamil Nadu, some steps have been taken to improve the life of trans community by providing them education, identity cards, subsidized food and free housing.