In September 2015 Kerala became the first State to bring out a policy to correct the continued marginalisation of its transgender community.
The social justice department’s draft was in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgement in the National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India case.
The judgement, a turning point in transgender rights, recognises the community as the third gender, and directs the Centre and States to protect their constitutional rights.
It grants the community socially and educationally backward status, as well as reservation in public education and employment.
Recommendations by the ministry of social justice and empowerment’s expert committee to designate State-level authorities to issue gender identity certificates also find mention in the ‘State Policy for Transgenders in Kerala’.
The policy mentions the presence of over 25,000 transgender people in Kerala, and documents the stigma and discrimination they face within family and in society.
The State intends strong measures to protect this vulnerable community, at least on paper. In the past two years, two separate governments have initiated slow but determined steps to realise their rights.
The policy was introduced by the Oommen Chandy-led United Democratic Front government. Activists acknowledge the initiative shown by MK Muneer, former State minister for social welfare and panchayat and a qualified doctor, in putting the policy in place.
The transgender community has remained a priority for the incumbent Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government too.