The number of trans people on the electoral roll in the south-west Indian state of Karnataka has gone up more than 50% since 2013.
The state’s electoral rolls counted 4,340 people who identified as trans compared to 2,125 in 2013. There was possibly even more trans people who are registered as male or female rather than as ‘third gender’.
Even though the number of trans people has doubled on the electoral roll, they only represent about 10% of the entire trans population in Karnataka.
‘The number of transgenders in the electoral rolls is not indicative of the population,’ said Manohar Elavarthy, the founder of Sangama, a trans and gender diverse advocacy organization.
‘There are at least 10,000 transgenders in the state and the number could well be 50,000. It would be interesting to know who are these 4,340transgender voters.’
Advocates said social stigma still holds trans people back from publicly declaring their gender identity and ultimately, whether they enrol to vote as their true gender.
‘Transgenders are not sure in which queue to stand while waiting to cast their vote,’ Sangama advocacy officer Nisha Gulur told the Times of India.
‘The numbers may have increased, as many have Aadhaar numbers now. While standing in the queue, there are chances of facing discrimination and hence many shy away from the voting exercise,’ she said.