Kerala- In a ground breaking moment in Kerala, a transgender individual named Faisal Faisu C has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first person from the transgender community to register land under their own gender identity. This achievement is particularly significant in a state that has been at the forefront of advancing transgender rights in India.
Kerala has been a pioneer in championing transgender rights, setting the stage for inclusive policies and initiatives. In the wake of the 2014 Supreme Court judgment affirming the right to equality and equal protection for transgender persons, Kerala took the lead by announcing the first-ever transgender policy in the country.
Building on this legacy of progress, the Kerala government, in a landmark move in 2021, announced the inclusion of "Transgender" as a distinct gender option in all official application forms and voters' lists.
Faisal Faisu's journey to register 4.25 cents of land, not conforming to conventional gender categories, aligns with the state's broader commitment to inclusivity. Faisu utilized the provisions outlined in the new Transgender Policy of the Kerala Government to challenge existing norms in land registration. The realization that transgender individuals were being categorized under the 'male' column during registration, regardless of their specific gender identity, fuelled Faisu's determination to bring about change.
In November, Faisu embarked on the process of purchasing land in Kadappuram village in Chavakkad, encountering a binary gender option – male or female – during registration. Unwilling to compromise, Faisu engaged with authorities, including the Social Justice department of Thrissur district, the District Registrar, and the State IT cell.
After a month of steadfast efforts, Faisu received the long-awaited confirmation on December 18 from the District Registrar’s office, announcing the official addition of a new column for transgender individuals by the State IT Cell. On December 20, Faisu successfully registered the land, marking not only a personal triumph but also contributing to Kerala's ongoing legacy of pioneering transgender rights.
"This is indeed a ground breaking move, and Faisal is perhaps the first trans person not only in Kerala but in India to own a piece of land in their own name. Most of us do not have documents, and even if we do, we lack the grit to fight and change norms like Faisu did, perhaps," says Sujata, a queer rights activist from Rajasthan.
In 2015, under the United Democratic Front (UDF) government, Kerala adopted a "State Policy for Transgenders." This policy aims for a society where men, women, and transgender individuals enjoy equal access to opportunities, economic resources, assets, services, and the right to dignity, freedom from violence, and the right to expression.
In 2016, Kochi saw the inauguration of India's inaugural transgender school, known as Sahaj International. This unique educational institution serves as an alternative learning center and operates in partnership with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). Sahaj International is designed to facilitate the education of transgender individuals, enabling them to pursue and complete their studies, including the opportunity to take Class X and XII examinations.
On January 10, 2017, Kerala took a historic step by establishing the country's first justice board for transgenders. This board handles cases involving transgender individuals, provides legal assistance, and strives to eliminate discrimination against the community.
A significant milestone was reached on April 28, 2017, when Kerala organized the country's first daylong athletic meet exclusively for transgender individuals. This event, organized by the state sports council, was a pioneering initiative.
On May 23, 2017 , another ground breaking move was made with the opening of an exclusive clinic for transgenders at the Government Medical College, Kottayam. This clinic marked the first of its kind in public sector hospitals across India.
In July 2023, Health Minister Veena George announced reservation for transgender students in nursing courses in the state. A first in the state and possibly in the country, the minister said one seat each has been reserved for students from the community in B.Sc nursing and general nursing courses.