Getting Aadhaar card big challenge for transgenders

They find it difficult to get documents verifying their gender

Getting an Aadhaar card, the first government-issued document that recognised transgender people as a third sex, is still a distant dream for many, say members of that community in Delhi.

And of the few who have got their cards, not many have been able to avail the benefits provided under the 12 digit individual identity number, they complain.

According to a recent RTI report, over 19,000 transgender people across the country have been issued UID numbers by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The UID number helps marginalised communities open bank accounts, get phone connections and is accepted as proof of identity for issuing documents like passports, driving licences and ration cards.

“It is not difficult to get UID cards. If people follow instructions and provide essential documents like identity and address proof they will not be denied their UID number,” said an UIDAI official.

When asked how many cards had been issued in Delhi, the official said the number had not been calculated yet.

However, members of the community say they do not have identity proof in the form of voters ID cards, ration cards, passports and driving licenses which could be produced before UIDAI officials.

ID proof

“Every member does not have ID proof which prevents them from getting the UID number. Many have documents which state their previous sex but officials ask for documents which verify that the candidates are transgender,” said Sumit Kumar, programme manager with MITR, a community based organisation of Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) and Transgenders. 

Rudrani, a member of the community, pointed out though UIDAI allows getting signature proof from an area MLA and a deputy commissioner, it is difficult to convince them to do so.

“Some of us approached our area MLA asking him to provide proof that we stay here but he asked us to come in a big group of over 200 members so that he is able to create a vote bank,” she said.

Moreover, many allege that they are thrown out of offices, mocked at and face slurs from ‘insensitive government officers’ who make them wait for hours.

Laya Medhini, an activist with the Centre for Legal Aid and Rights, said UID numbers are being issued and the situation is better than what it was earlier.

 “It is not that UID numbers are not being issued. It is the behaviour of officials and society that is preventing the community from applying for aadhaar cards. Anyone who is discriminated and insulted once will not have the courage to go back again,” she said.

Cancelled

Ambalika Roy, a Delhi-based advocate, said several Aadhaar cards were cancelled in January because of issues related to submission of documents. “There is no accurate mapping but not more than 25 per cent of the transgender population in Delhi has received Aadhaar cards,” she said.

Activists say there are over lakh members in the community but the number might not be accurate.

Also, there is a large floating population of transgender people coming to the Capital from Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon, and Rewari and other places in the neighbourhood.

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