The highly-victimised transgender community in Jammu and Kashmir is finally heaving a sigh of relief with the state government announcing a slew of measures for their uplift.
It is for the first time since Independence that the state has come up with schemes for the transgender community and included them for welfare measures in the annual budget.
“I propose BPL status for transgenders, along with free life and medical insurance cover and a monthly sustenance pension on the pattern of old-age pension for those above 60 and have registered with the social welfare department,” said J&K Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Ahmad Drabu.
Transgenders here mainly work as folk singers/dancers and perform ‘Bache Nagama’ (a form of a folk dance where they dress up as women). Bache Nagama is performed during the marriages and the wedding season in Kashmir is very short. Transgender community is left to fend for themselves most of the times and to sustain themselves they double up as match makers.
“We welcome the measures announced by the government. It will certainly help our community. Unfortunately, no one has ever thought of us as if we never existed,” said Abdul Rashid aka Reshma, who heads the transgender community here.
Reshma, who herself ekes out living by singing in the marriage functions, said that there are still people who lampoon and make fun of them on the streets. “Most of the people are good. But there are still some who make fun of us. Even yesterday when I was walking some people on bicycle passed comments. This should end,” Reshma said.
J&K Minister for Social Welfare and ARI Training and Science and Technology Sajad Gani Lone said budget has been prepared keeping in mind not only the people’s interests. “An attempt has been made to further boost the tourism sector in the state besides providing benefit to the neglected class of the society including the transgenders,” said Lone.