A PIL filed in the Madras High Court by a transgender rights activist seeks the extension of state government's covid relief financial assistance to transgender persons not holding ration cards. The government scheme is open to all ration card holders, and provides Rs 4000 to those applying.
During a hearing of the PIL on Thursday, Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram who represented the government said the prayers made in the petition were under consideration by the accepted the notice in this regard issued by the bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.
The petitioner Grace Banu Ganeshan had asked the Department of Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection to extend their Covid-19 cash relief of Rs 4000 to transgender people without documents like ration card. The plea claimed there were 50,000 transgender persons in the state of whom less than 12,000 were registered with the government and less than 3,000 held ration cards.
"Limiting this cash relief only for persons who possess ration cards would deny the benefit of cash relief to thousands of poor transgender persons in Tamil Nadu who does not have ration cards," said the petition. It also alleged that the state had not issued the transgender cards for two years now, adding that this meant that the state failed the economically backward transgender persons who lost their means of livelihood during the pandemic.
The petition also raised the issue of vaccine hesitancy and pleaded to conduct awareness programmes for Transgender Persons in the State of Tamil Nadu regarding Covid-19 vaccination, especially to clarify and assure them of the safety of vaccines for those who are undergoing hormone therapy or have HIV. It also demanded special vaccination drives for transgender persons in Tamil Nadu by assisting them to register online and get special vaccination slots in local community health centres.
In the wake of rising concerns about the transgender population the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thawarchand Gehlot announced on Twitter that the ministry was launching immediate assistance of 1500 rupees to transgender persons. The assistance will be made through direct bank transfer mode. To avail the aid, transgender persons and CBOs have to submit the details to the National Institute of Social Defence.