In a unique first-of-its-kind move in India, the Cuddalore district administration in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu has proposed to establish model villages to rehabilitate members of the transgender community. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India that has given a gender status to transsexuals.
The model villages planned in Cuddalore, Panruti and Chidambaram regions of Tamil Nadu will help relocate members of the transgender community and begin hassle-free implementation of several welfare schemes by the state government under the newly established welfare board for transsexuals.
The district administration has identified a two-acre site in Cuddalore and according to the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) R. Brindadevi, the transsexuals would be provided with 3-cent house sites (about 1,308 sq ft) and loans would be arranged for construction of houses. "Once the beneficiaries move into the proposed villages all other basic requirements right from ration cards, voter identity cards and medical care will be well within their reach," the RDO said. According to district collector Rajendra Ratnoo, self-employment schemes for the transsexuals in the villages to raise their socio-economic status were also on the anvil.
National Environment, Empowerment and Development (NEED), an NGO, undertook a 10-day survey to identify members of the third gender community. There are about 200 transsexuals in the district and census is underway in four regions -Cuddalore, Panruti, Vadalur and Vridachalam. Ramya, a transsexual who heads the census operation, welcomed the state government's move and said over 80 percent of the transgender are abandoned by their own family members, suffer social stigma and live in small groups in various parts of the district in abject poverty.
"Prevalence of HIV among the transgender is very high and their relocation will also ensure proper medical care periodically," Ramya added.