Assam’s first transgender judge, Swati Bidhan Baruah, said she could not vote as a third gender voter but had to identify as a male voter because of the insensitivity of poll officials. “I had approached the booth-level officer to get my ID corrected to reflect my choice of gender, who said it would take time and elections would be over by then. They (the officials) asked me to come back after the Lok Sabha election and said they’d rectify it before the assembly election (to be held in 2021). In a way, I was compelled to vote as a male voter,” Baruah, a practising lawyer at Gauhati high court, said.
An Election Commission source said anyone can correct their gender by taking it up with the booth-level officer, the electoral registration officer or online. Baruah disagreed. “The EC does not enrol the third gender offline, as it does with others ... This shows officials involved in the election process are still not sensitized about our community,” she said.
Baruah said there were several others like her. According to the EC, Assam has 503 transgender voters. But the community has at least 20,000 members in the state. “Only those who could get their documents corrected and in order were shown as third gender,” Baruah added.
In 2014, when the Election Commission released data on transgender voter registration for the first time, there were 43 transgender voters enrolled in the state. Before that, transgenders were forced to enrol as either male or female.
In Gauhati constituency, where Baruah is a voter, 78 voters out of 21.78 lakh are enrolled as transgender voters. Only four of them — two each in Dudhnoi and Dispur assembly segments — cast their votes. And it’s not just voting. Any process that requires documentary proof becomes difficult to follow up on. Read more via Time of India