Graphic Art by SLIC

Fact Finding Report on Right to Food with the Transgender Community in the District of Warangal, Telangana

In the mid 1870, the eunuchs of Gazipur district in Uttar Pradesh complained that they were starving due to ban on right to dance and play in public which was the only source of livelihood for the eunuchs then. Trans people face a variety of social security issues. Since most of them run away or evicted from home, they do not expect support from their biological family in the long run. Subsequently, they face a lot of challenges especially when they are not in a position to earn (or has decreased earning capacity) due to health concerns, lack of employment opportunities, or old age. Lack of specific social welfare schemes and barriers to use existing schemes has consistently push their economic backwardness and ultimately to below poverty lines of the society. The Social welfare departments provide a variety of social welfare schemes for socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

However, so far, no such specific schemes are available for Trans people even for the subsidised groceries or food supplements through the civil supplies department. Many times it has seen that stringent and cumbersome procedures need for address proof, identity proof, and income certificate all hinder even deserving people from making use of available schemes including in getting this necessities of life. After the historical judgment of NALSA Vs UOI 2014 Odisha has become the first state in India in 2015 to include the transgender community in the category of below poverty line (BPL) beneficiaries which connect them to programmes of the government, like food grains, pension, health, education and housing. Other than this no single state has yet implemented this judgment including the Central Government in any of its welfare schemes.

Right to Food and Telangana State

Telangana state formed in 2014 as 29th state of Indian Republic. 3The Civil Supplies Department of State has started with an objective of Implementation of National Food Security Act 2013 by making food grains accessible at reasonable prices especially to the weaker and vulnerable sections of the society under public distribution system ensuring food security to all the citizens of the state. The Civil Supplies Department of State has over 84.64 lakshs ration cards covering a total of 2.83 crore beneficiaries . The State government with effect from 2015 has taken decision to provide 6 kgs of subsidized rice under NFSA 1 kg per person without any limitation on the number of members in the family which hold the white ration card.

The State Government has taken decision to supply superfine quality rice to all the welfare hostels and the mid day meal programme from 1st January , 2015 .As per the central government’s Anthyodaya Annayojana guidelines the persons who are dependent on daily earnings, persons of no subsistence or societal support Urban and rural homeless people.

Situation of Transgender persons In Telangana in the light of Right to Food

There is no state census of Transgender people but as per the last year voters list of state election commission there are 2885 transgender voters across the state . The State doesn’t have any specific welfare policy or inclusive of its existing policies which provides the subsidized food for the transgender people who live below the poverty line. There are many reasons often why the transgender people are not able to avail the white ration card for the subsidized food supplements distributed by the state at free of cost. E.g no proper/valid identity documents like voter id, Adhaar card or bank account any such social entitlements which are asked as one or both as the proof for the residence and also for the economic status of such transgender person. This is the starting point of transgender people excluding them in all sorts of social welfare schemes.

The Telangana state civil supplies department on its online form for applying to the white ration card has included a third column which will help to register transgender people for such ration card. But when the ration card is issued it is issued only to the Transgender woman who has an valid government identity proof as ‘third gender’ . In that way only trans woman are only eligible for such white ration card. This is not only against the self identity principle which has been established under NALSA Vs UOI , third gender judgment but also social injustice to other people who self identify themselves under third gender category. There are lot of Transgender people who identify them selves as either as Trans men, Intersex or Hijra , Kinner or others who are also part of larger Trans umbrella ( as defined under NALSA Vs UOI judgment) who have no scope to get registered under the white ration card scheme.

There is a need to find the facts in this regarding the situation of transgender community of Telangana state who are still not part of food security schemes of either Centre or State government as per the guidelines. Which is why SLIC conducted a fact finding across 5 Districts in Telangana.