Dr.Rajeev Menon, National Secretary of Republic Party of India, Athawale, has drawn attention to the pressing issue faced by transgender individuals in India. According to the 2011 census, there are approximately 4.88 lakh transgenders in India. Menon emphasizes that the lack of regular shelter facilities is a significant problem for the transgender community, emphasizing the importance of establishing transgender hostels in every city to ensure their safety and well-being.
While the Narendra Modi government has introduced several schemes for the welfare of transgender individuals, Dr Rajeev Menon highlights the critical role of state governments in implementing these schemes effectively. He emphasizes that the schemes formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, such as the “SMILE – Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise” scheme, specifically the sub-scheme “Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons,” address the need for rehabilitation, medical facilities, intervention, counseling, education, skill development, and economic opportunities for transgender persons.
Recognizing the importance of skill development, the Ministry conducts skill training for transgender beneficiaries through the PM-DAKSH scheme, which focuses on equipping them with essential skills for sustainable livelihoods.
To further advocate for transgender rights, the National Council for Transgender Persons was constituted on August 21, 2020. The council’s role is to advise the government on policies, programs, legislation, and projects pertaining to transgender persons, ensuring their inclusion and empowerment.
In line with its commitment to transgender welfare, the Ministry launched the National Portal for Transgender Persons on November 25, 2020. The portal facilitates the issuance of Certificates of Identity and Identity Cards without the need for physical interface, allowing transgender individuals to change their first names on birth certificates and official documents.
As part of its initiative to provide safe and secure shelter, the Ministry has established 12 pilot shelter homes called ‘Garima Greh’ for transgender persons. These homes, located in states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha, provide essential amenities such as food, shelter, medical care, and recreational facilities. Additionally, they offer capacity-building and skill development programs to empower transgender individuals.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry set up a helpline to provide psychological support through trained psychologists to transgender persons facing distress.
Dr Rajeev Menon emphasizes the importance of addressing the challenges faced by transgender individuals and urges state governments to actively implement the welfare schemes provided by the central government. By establishing transgender hostels and ensuring the effective utilization of existing schemes, society can create a safer and more inclusive environment for transgender individuals to thrive.