This Article is From Aug 14, 2018

Transgenders Find It Hard To Make It To Assam Citizens' List

Assam NRC: Transgender people in Assam say since their families have disowned them long ago, they are in a fix over getting legacy documents

Assam NRC: Those left out can file appeals against the NRC list


Rinki, 29, a transgender in Guwahati, did not find her name in the draft Assam citizens' list. But she is not the only transgender who did not make it to the National Register of Citizens or NRC in Assam.

While Assam is now busy with the claims and objection phase of the NRC, an exercise to identify illegal immigrants, the transgender community in the north-eastern state says they have been completely left out of the NRC.

There is no plan in place for transgender people, whose chosen name and gender remain excluded from the draft NRC. Their only hope now lies with the Supreme Court, which is likely to take up their petition seeking inclusion in the draft NRC on August 16.

Rinki said she left her home in Assam's Lakhimpur when she was only 10 years old. She had been ridiculed by the neighbours and disowned by her family. She now lives with other transgender people. Zeena, 37, is another transgender person from Guwahati's Maligaon; Zeena's name was also not in the NRC list.

"I left home when I was 10. After that I have always lived with others... When the NRC application process was on, I once met family members on a train. They assured me of including my name but after that they didn't inform anything," Rinki told NDTV.

"There are hundreds like me who could not provide legacy linkage because our families have disowned us, but we are not Bangladeshis; this is our motherland, so the government should not turn a blind eye," Rinki said.

Zeena said the "guru" of her transgender community is named as her guardian. "We don't have any means to draw our linkage with my biological father," she said.

The transgender people are apprehensive of losing citizenship and facing detention or deportation.

The census of 2011 found 11,374 transgender people in Assam and the number could now be nearly 20,000.

The NRC officials have said they were unable to include any name without admissible documents as approved by the Supreme Court. Activists, however, say there is no clear direction and that's why the Supreme court is their last resort.

"2,000 transgender people have applied; hardly a few names came in the draft because they only have current document. They also cannot get the legacy documents from parental homes since they are outcast, so we petitioned the Supreme Court," said Bidhan Baruah, founder of Assam Transgenders' Association.

"And we are hopeful since it was the Supreme Court that was the first in the country to have addressed issues of transgender rights."

In 2014, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict, directing the states to recognise the gender identity of transgender people and ensure that they are given entitlements and benefits.

To make it to Assam NRC, one has to prove that one's parents have lived in Assam before 1971. This is done by way of legacy linkage, which is a difficult task for the transgender community since for most of them their families have cut ties with them a long time ago.