Jammu: The smiles on the faces of Transgenders from across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir became wider and their happiness knew no bounds, after the administration on Tuesday constituted a 13-member Welfare Board for them, to be headed by Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta.
Showering praises to the Jammu and Kashmir government headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the community stated that it was ‘better late than never’ and a welcome step.
As per the Government Order No 822-3K (GAD) dated July 12, 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir government in terms of Clause 10 (1) of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 on Monday sanctioned constitution of Transgender Welfare Board, comprising 13 members for the protection of rights and interests of transgender persons, thereby facilitating their access to government schemes and welfare measures in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Mehta has been appointed as Chairperson of the Board, while Administrative Secretaries from the Home Department, Finance Department, Health and Medical Education Department, School Education Department, Member, Social Welfare Department, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Director, Social Welfare, Jammu are appointed as its Members. Director General, Social Welfare, Kashmir is the Member Secretary of the Board.
Besides, Saair Ahmad Bhat, Vice President, Palzun Foundation, Bemina Srinagar, Aijaz Ahmad Wani of Galwanpora, Sebdan, Budgam, Haji Miya Saira of Shahidi Chowk, Jammu and Madan Lal of 13, Hiranagar, District Samba, have also joined as Members.
Speaking to UNI, Arnavi, the first transgender pursuing Fine Arts Degree at Jammu University, expressed happiness on the decision and said, “The Board should have been established long back, but still it is a welcome step.
“We are happy with the decision and in future, the government should also consider facilities like free education, medical facilities, separate restaurants and washrooms for the community,” added the 26-year-old.
Arnavi, who recently led the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ) pride parade in Jammu, further said, “The society has to accept us because we are also normal human beings like others and should be treated at par, having all constitutional rights.”
She stated that at the age of nine, she realised that she was a transgender.
After getting a Fine Arts degree at Jammu University without any support from her family or the government, Arnavi has taken on the role of an ambassador, raising awareness about the rights of the LGBTQ community in Jammu.
Saksham, a third year law student from NUJS Kolkatta told UNI, “I am elated that finally the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2014 recognising transgender persons as the third gender got wings with the constitution of Board by the J&K government.”
But, Saksham expressed that the Board lacks induction of transgender men and transpersons, adding, “As per the NALSA judgment, all members of the community are to be taken on Board but the Transgender Welfare Board of J&K ‘ignored’ them.”
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 [Transgender Persons Act] seeks to recognise the identity of transgender persons and prohibits discrimination in, inter alia, the fields of education, employment, healthcare, holding or disposing of property, holding public or private office and access, as per the NALSA judgement.
He also felt dejected that no educated person from the community was inducted as a member and added, “Still, I congratulate the government because the implementation was overdue and has finally been done.”