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Posted at: Jul 16, 2019, 8:10 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2019, 8:10 AM (IST)

LGBT activist demands inclusivity for third gender

LGBT activist demands inclusivity for third gender
LGBT rights activist Mohini Mahant, who recently led the first Pride Parade of Punjab in Amritsar. tribune photo

Neha Saini

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 15

Recently, Panjab University joined the league of a few institutions in the country to have the third gender friendly campus by offering fee waiver for transgender students. Encouraging the community by having a separate washroom facility for them a year back, the PU has set another example as far as opening inroads towards inclusiveness. The move has once again stirred the demand for infrastructure for third gender in other cities, including Amritsar.

Mohini Mahant, Punjab-based LGBT rights activist and the first transgender jurist at the National Lok Adalat in Punjab, said such small yet significant steps would ensure total inclusivity for the third gender. “A separate washroom facility for the third gender is a basic right that needs to be implemented throughout the country, not just one city or institution. Also, considering that post SC ruling of granting transgender the status of third gender, we are entitled to basic rights, including education, which is currently the most important issue among our community.”

She has also been running from pillar to post to get her demand of separate cremation ground for the third gender for the past one year. “In our community, the tradition is that when a transgender dies, the cremation is held after sunset or in evening. Most cremation grounds are closed post sunset. We have no option but to carry out a burial in specific deras. I have been demanding allotment of separate cremation ground for transgender and have written to various departments in this concern, but in vain.”

She mentions that despite her master’s degree and currently pursuing PhD, She has not been able to get a decent employment as no government or private company hires transgenders, owing to social stigma. Working on a salary that amounts to Rs 400 per day, Mohini says lack of education opportunities and jobs are a big hurdle for the upliftment of the third gender. “Even a daily wager earns more than an educated transgender like me. It really spells out the challenges we face.”

She also mentions that her demand of having a separate washroom for the third gender in public places is something that is crucial. “Amritsar is a tourist destination and it hosts many transgender tourists as well, who find themselves helpless as there is no washroom marked for the third gender. Some even face harassment as they are forced to use male or female public rooms.”

The activist, who led the first Pride Parade of Punjab in Amritsar, says that facilities, including pension or reservations for transgenders, who fall under senior citizen category, should also be allotted by the government. “Social acceptance will only happen if we are able to get access to basic rights, including education and job employment. Just like other gender, we should also be given equal opportunity to be a part of the progressive India that everybody talks about often,” she adds.

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