The Chandigarh Carnival began on November 24, this year. As part of the three-day celebrations, a stall has been allotted to the transgender community. This decision was taken by the Tourism Department of Chandigarh which organises the festival, to spread awareness about transgenders.
The administration also wants visitors to the stall to know that it has established a transgender welfare board. “This is the first time that our community will have a stall, where six of our members will spread awareness about the community,” said Dhananjay Chauhan, a leader in the transgender community and member of the welfare board, to the Hindustan Times. “We will talk about it to the public and will seek support from the ones who want to join us.”
This initiative, however, has more to it than engaging with the broader public. It also seeks to spread awareness amongst the UT’s 2000-strong transgender community, that a government-sponsored welfare board exists for them.
“There is a proposal that those who want to get their sex reassignment surgeries done can come to the board and seek support for it at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Educations and Research (PGIMER). The proposal is that PGIMER too will support us in getting the treatment done free of cost,” Chauhan added.
The welfare board is also looking to establish separate hostels for transgender students, besides holding talks with the UT administration in formulating a policy of free education for them.
Chauhan is a beneficiary of the landmark Supreme Court judgement, which allowed her to take up admission at Panjab University. The apex court judgement in April 2014 acknowledged a ‘third gender’ that is neither male or female. “Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue, but a human rights issue,” the court had said. It also asked the Centre to refrain from treating transgenders as “socially and economically backward”, enabling them to get reservations in jobs and educational institutes.