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Bombay HC Rules Transgender Women Can Contest Elections Under Women’s Reservation. This Is A Small Victory

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Did you know that the Right to Equality is the first Fundamental Right listed in the Indian Constitution?  It states that all people should be treated equally before the law, without discrimination. It all sounds so ideal on paper, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, our country is light years away from achieving equality. Here, you are either born a privileged man or a woman who utterly conforms to societal norms. Or born as anything other than these two binaries will leave you fighting for every basic right. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. It’s especially bad for transgender people who have to scramble for recognition and acknowledgement. And that is why we have to celebrate the fact that the Bombay HC has ruled that a transgender woman can contest election under women’s reservation. This is a huge win. 

You see, on Saturday, the Bombay HC ruled that a transgender woman can run for elections under a ward that is reserved solely for women. This ruling quashed an order that prevented a transgender woman from contesting the reserved ward on the grounds that it was not reserved for transgender candidates. 

It all began when Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan approached the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court. She claimed that her nomination form for the village panchayat elections in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, despite being complete, was rejected because she is a transgender and the ward is reserved solely for women. 

Also Read: Belgium Appoints Europe’s First Transgender Deputy Prime Minister. This Is So Inspirational

After hearing the petition, Justice Ravindra Ghuge said, “The [government] has introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, and has permitted a transgender person to have a right to be recognized and such transgender is permitted to have a right to self-perceived gender identity…. In the present case, the petitioner has opted for the female gender as her self-perceived gender identity.” 

This sets a wonderful precedent. Our country looks down on transgenders. They are discriminated against and stripped of their basic rights. I am glad slowly and steadily that is changing. 

During the hearing, Anjali’s lawyer assured the court that she would not switch back to the male gender. He said that she would continue to identify as a female. The lawyer said, “In Jaan’s lifetime, she would not switch over to male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for female gender, in future, save and except if there is a reservation provided for transgenders in public life.”

This ruling is a victory for transgender people. However, the fact that Anjali’s lawyer had to assure the court that she would not be going back to identifying as a man shows how much work needs to be done. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about transgenders that we have to correct. 

After reading this piece of new though, I was curious. And as it turns out, just a few weeks ago two transgender women were elected to a gram panchayat. Devika Akka, a transgender woman, was elected in Ward 7 of the Saligrama panchayat, while a woman known as Sudha won the election in Kallahalli. 

Speaking to the local news, Devika said that her priority was to serve her people. She said she would strive to meet people’s expectations. She said, “People blessed me. I will work for them.” You know, I can’t help but think If more of our politicians had this attitude, we would be in a much better place. 

Devika said, “I will listen to the concerns of residents in my locality and highlight whatever issues they come to me with. I am to be available to my residents for even the smallest of needs.” 

Meanwhile, Sudha was elected to the Kalahalli panchayat after securing 622 votes. This was the first gram panchayat election in the village in 26 years. 

More power to them!

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