Udaipur— Marking a significant leap towards inclusivity and empowerment, Rajasthan has embarked on a registration drive aimed at providing official recognition and seamless access to vital government welfare programs for the transgender (third gender) community. This pioneering initiative not only seeks to accurately gauge the transgender population but also aspires to integrate them effectively into a spectrum of government initiatives.
The absence of identity cards has previously hindered their access to numerous schemes. Presently, 14 individuals have successfully registered in Udaipur. Upon the completion of this effort, Rajasthan will become the second state in India to issue official IDs to transgender individuals. Recently, Noor Shekhawat became the first trans person to receive a Jan Adhaar card that acknowledges them as the first transgender mukhiya.
Rajasthan follows the trailblazing footsteps of Kerala, which set this precedent in 2018 by introducing separate ID cards for the transgender community. Kerala's visionary move ensures equitable access to governmental privileges and benefits for all transgender individuals. Kerala's progressive spirit is further exemplified by its pioneering transgender policy, established as early as 2019. Demonstrating its commitment, the Kerala Social Justice Department streamlined the ID card application process, enabling transgender individuals to obtain these crucial documents with remarkable ease through a simple click.
The Rajasthan government lacks an official census of the transgender population. While estimates suggest that approximately one lakh transgender individuals reside in the state, the government's official count is around 17 thousand. Even in this estimation, the distribution across districts remains unknown. To address this issue, the government introduced the concept of identity cards for transgender individuals around three and a half years ago, and the implementation process has now commenced.
Amit Bhatt, a counselor for the third gender community, has compiled data indicating that there are 45 transgender individuals in Udaipur district, while the division houses 120 transgender individuals.
Applications for identity cards will be accepted until September 8. Applicants are required to submit a self-attested affidavit along with a medical certificate, especially those transitioning through medical interventions such as Sex reassignment surgery. The Social Welfare Department will carefully review these documents, after which the collector will issue the identity cards.
The application process encourages collaboration with registered voluntary organizations, trusts, and firms. These entities can assist transgender individuals in applying for identity cards. For every application facilitated by these organizations, they will receive a financial incentive of Rs 500. Interested organizations can submit their proposals to various relevant authorities, including the Joint Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director, District Probation Officer, and Social Welfare Officer of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department at the district headquarters, prior to the September 8 deadline.
On August 20, a significant milestone was achieved in Rajasthan as Noor Shekhawat, became the first transgender individual in the state to receive a Jan Aadhaar card. This issuance of the Jan Aadhaar card to a transgender individual has set a groundbreaking precedent in the state. The Jan Aadhaar Authority of Rajasthan confirmed this development through a release from the Information and Public Relations Department.
Sitaram Swaroop, the Joint Director of the Rajasthan Jan Aadhaar Authority, explained that this is the inaugural instance in which a Jan Aadhaar card has been issued in the name of a transgender person. Noor Shekhawat approached him with a problem: they lacked their own Aadhaar card due to familial rejection, which subsequently prevented them from benefiting from any of the state government's welfare schemes.
Under the existing regulations, an individual above 18 years of age who identifies as a woman or an individual above 21 years of age who identifies as a man can be designated as the head of a Jan Aadhaar family. Historically, no transgender person had been designated as the head of a family, nor had any transgender individual approached the Jan Aadhaar Authority to apply for this position. This predicament caused Noor Shekhawat to feel disillusioned in their pursuit of obtaining the Jan Aadhaar card.
Upon being contacted by Noor Shekhawat, Sitaram Swaroop promptly instructed his technical team to modify the software accordingly. As a result, Noor was enrolled in the Jan Aadhaar system, and they received an electronic copy of their Jan Aadhaar card. With the acquisition of the Jan Aadhaar card, Noor Shekhawat can now avail herself of the benefits offered by various state government schemes, just like any other eligible beneficiary. This move not only grants Noor Shekhawat access to essential government programs but also paves the way for greater recognition and empowerment of the transgender community in Rajasthan.
Noor Shekhawat shared their journey, stating, "Initially, my Jan Aadhaar card was linked to my family's name. However, as I asserted my independence, I took the step to visit the e-mitra center to initiate the process of updating my Jan Aadhaar card to reflect my current status. While I understood that I might not be eligible for the role of Mukhiya (head of the family) according to the age criteria, I was resolute in pursuing the card application. Subsequently, I went to Yojna Bhawan, where I had the opportunity to meet Sitaram Swaroop, the Joint Director of the Rajasthan Janadhar Authority. Through his intervention and support, the term 'transgender' was appropriately incorporated into my Aadhaar card. As a result, I am now recognized as Rajasthan's first transgender Mukhiya. In a recent development, I have also enrolled at Rajasthan University to pursue my education."