16 May 2009

Indian city to build toilets for transgender people: report

MUMBAI — Pre and post-operative transsexuals in the southern Indian city of Chennai are to get their own public toilets in an effort to boost recognition of the community, a report said Monday.

Three toilets are to be built to cater for the sizeable transgender population as part of a pilot project that will begin after the upcoming general elections, the English-language Indian Express newspaper said.

Municipal commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni was quoted as saying that the scheme was aimed at "extending recognition to the community and mainstreaming them" and more facilities could be built if the public responded well to the idea.

But it has drawn a mixed response from the transgender community itself.

"I don't agree with this. We want to mingle with the mainstream. We don't want to be separated like this," said Aasha Bharati, president of the Aravanigal Association in Tamil Nadu state.

"Using separate toilets will open the way for discrimination. We want to be considered as females. In our hearts, we are women."

India's first transgender television host, Rose Venkatesan, was more positive. She said: "It is a big problem, because not everyone has undergone a sex change.

"This is a good idea but in the long run, I see a society where there is no difference and all use the same toilets."

There are about 30,000 transgendered people in Tamil Nadu state and there are thought to be about 500,000 across India. They are among the most marginalised and discriminated against in India's hierarchical, conservative society.

Source (AFP)

06 May 2009

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