In a first, transgender elected as union councillor

In a first, transgender elected as union councillor

A Ria receiving the certificate of victory from the Returning Officer in Tiruchengode in Namankan district. DH photo

A Ria, a transgender, on Thursday scripted history by becoming the first person from the community to get elected to a local body post on a ticket given by a recognised political party. The 30-year-old who contested on a DMK ticket was elected as panchayat union councillor from the 2nd ward in Tiruchengode union in Namakkal district by a margin of 947 votes.

As the results of the elections held for rural local bodies were announced, there were quite a few surprise elements – college-going girls as young as 21 and 22, women as old as 79 and 82 and a sanitary worker who was till recently working with the government got elected as panchayat presidents in various parts of the state.

Ria’s victory was particularly sweet for the DMK as it was its late patriarch M Karunanidhi during his tenure as Chief Minister from 2006 to 2011 established the Transgender Persons Welfare Board for the first time in the country, giving much-needed recognition to the community.

“I just don’t have words to express my happiness. I am particularly joyful that I have been elected from a party that recognised the transgender community in the party and empowered them. My journey is towards achieving the power to do good for the people and not to myself. My victory will herald a new chapter,” Ria told DH.

Ria, who applied for a ticket after DMK President M K Stalin announced in November that transgenders can also aspire to be representatives of local bodies as nominees of the party, also called upon members of her community to take a plunge into politics so that their voices are heard in the corridors of power.

The 30-year-old had left her home when she was just 12 after she came out to her parents about her orientation and returned to them only when she was 18.

“My parents have accepted me and today the society, too, has accepted and recognised a transgender. I will work for the people as I don’t have to bother about my family. My work should bring laurels to the party which reposed faith in me,” Ria said.

The DMK, which gave her a seat, was elated by Ria’s victory. “It has been proved once again that the DMK has always been in the forefront towards change. I congratulate Ria for her victory. Transgenders should continue to get such recognition from the society,” DMK Thoothukudi MP and women’s wing secretary Kanimozhi said.

21-year-old Jaisandhya Rani and 22-year-old R Subitha, who won as independent and from CPI in Krishnagiri and Tiruvarur districts respectively, said they would ensure proper roads and clean drinking water in their area. “Politics is an opportunity to do good for the people. I would like to use this post to take my village to the next level,” Rani, who is pursuing her 2nd year BBA, said.

82-year-old Visalakshi, 79-year-old Veerammal and sanitary worker Saraswathi won from Tiruppur, Theni and Virudhunagar districts.

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