On Monday, two transwomen filed their nominations for local body polls in Kerala. Sherin Antony and Sneha K will contest local body polls and challenge incumbents in Ernakulam and Kannur respectively. Sherin is the first transperson to announce her candidature for local body polls in the district. Both candidates have received a good amount of support from the people in the districts they are contesting in.
The transgender community is one disenfranchised group that has been subject to ridicule and neglect. Many have felt that Governments so far have done nothing to address their issues or bring in structural changes to uplift them. Plus, while women, in general, are not as dominating in politics, transwomen are a rare sight. The two are now contesting the elections to challenge this continued neglect. As Sherin stated:
“Only a transgender can understand the problems faced by other members of the community. Hence, I decided to contest.“
Sherin is the state president of the Democratic Transgenders Federation of Kerala. The organisation is backed by CPM.
She lives in Nazareth with her family. She had studied till 8th standard, but dropped out because of continued discrimination and difficulties she faced as a transperson. Sherin was part of the housekeeping staff at Kochi Metro Rail Limited for two years but quit because the salary was too low.
She plans to address many civic and development related issues, particularly the continued issue of waterlogging in the district.
She has received strong backing from people in the area.
“People here are also fed up with the lackadaisical attitude of people’s representatives. They need change, something that a person living in the area can bring,”
Sneha also reiterated the need for transwomen to step into mainstream politics. She stated that men and women from dominant political parties have and failed in solving people’s problems.
“Making promises is not going to solve anything. The need is to study the problems people are facing and address them,”
Sneha is a resident of the Samajvadhi Colony at Thottada. She will be contesting from Kizhunna (division 36) of Kannur Corporation.
Her friend Sanidha said that all the people in the colony have pledged their support for Sneha. The colony has around 145 families and 700 votes.
Both the candidates’ entry into politics is a hopeful sign for people in the transgender community who are discriminated on the basis of their gender identity on many levels. Discrimination can come in the form of harassment from people in power, individuals and hate groups, as well as lack of resources provided to the communities from authorities. They hope to tackle these issues and bring them to the forefront of mainstream politics.