Transgender looks to conquer Madurai

Scripting a new chapter to her battle in securing her community's rights, a well-known transgender and activist is making her electoral debut in the April 24 Lok Sabha polls  in Tamil Nadu.

Though there have been occasions when transgenders have contested Assembly and local-body polls in the country, this could be the first time a transgender is contesting Parliamentary elections in India.

The 53-year-old Bharathi Kannamma, who will contest as an independent candidate from the Madurai Lok Sabha constituency, has not only launched her whirlwind campaign but also unveiled her own election manifesto.

Kannamma, who worked as marketing manager in a private bank, has been involved in social work and the upliftment of transgenders in the region for a few years now.
A postgraduate in sociology, she said, “If elected, I will try to turn Madurai into an industrial city on the lines of Chennai and Coimbatore. It would help generate employment opportunities for thousands of youths in the constituency.

“As transgenders, we do not have any family commitment, which would enable us to devote our time to the public and address their issues,” she told Deccan Herald.
Kannamma’s nomination for candidature of the Mayor’s post was rejected owing to confusion over her gender identity during 2011 local-body elections.

Hoping for a miracle to secure a seat where major Dravidian parties, including the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK are contesting, Kannama said, “We too can achieve, if given the right platform. “I am not expecting an immediate victory. It (contesting the polls) is an effort to send the alarm bells ringing for politicians across the country, that even transgenders can enter electoral politics to secure their rights.”

Recalling the social stigma she had faced, Kannamma said, “I have imbalance in growth hormones since my birth. What can I do for that? After my mother's death, I was discriminated against by my relatives.”

According to the Election Commission sources, Kannamma, in her affidavit, has declared assets to the tune of about Rs 3 lakh. She also said she has cash of Rs 1 lakh in the bank and Rs 3,000 in hand.

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