Jharkhand Still Awaits A Transgender Welfare Board

Activists fighting for transgender rights in the state believe that the welfare board will help resolve some of the issues faced by the community

A transgender rights activist shouts slogans during an anti-government demonstration in Kolkata.

Mansi Roy, who lives in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, does not have a voter ID but has an Aadhar card. However, Roy has been identified as a male and not a transgender on the government-issued card.

Around 2,000 transgenders reside in Jamshedpur. According to Roy, many are not even aware that they can now get transgender cards made or the importance of these cards. Roy, 30, feels that the government should spread awareness so that people from the transgender community, especially those living in small towns and villages, come to know about their rights.

“We live in constant fear. Our families don’t support us and society is unkind to us. When our families come to know about our gender, they throw us out. The government is unable to provide us with basic education and healthcare facilities. Those who manage to complete their education don’t get hired. When they don’t have any option, some of them end up indulging in illegal activities. In the absence of a board or a commission, where do we go with our problems?” asks Roy.

Amarjeet Singh Shergill, a transgender activist based in Jharkhand, mentions about a 12-year-old girl who is now working as a sex worker for survival. “Our society and the government are to be blamed for this. After her parents’ demise, she was thrown out of the house. There are no shelter homes for transgenders. She had nowhere to go. And we all know how unkind our society is towards the community,” says Shergill.

As a transgender activist, she has been struggling for the rights of the community in the state for the past many years. Shergill feels that the mentality of both, the government, and society has not changed when it comes to transgenders. She is of the view that the people from the community are forced to live in horrible conditions and the government is responsible for this. He has written to the Jharkhand government and the district administration 30 to 35 times, highlighting the problems faced by transgenders, but to no avail.

Shergill, the convener of Utthan, an outfit that works for the rights of the LGBT community, says: “Initially, we did not have any identity of our own. After the Supreme Court’s NALSA judgment of 2014, we got identified as transgender instead of others. I have been raising my voice after this, for the want of a transgender welfare board in the state, a platform where transgenders can share their problems.”

She adds: “There are welfare boards in the neighbouring states of Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. Jharkhand still does not have one. The Supreme Court, in its decision, had asked all the state governments to form a board at the state level. But here, no one listens to us.”

After the 2014 judgment, the community got the status of ‘transgender’. Referring to Articles 14, 16 and 21, the Supreme Court said that transgender are also citizens of this country. They have equal rights over education, health, employment and social acceptance.

Transgenders in Jharkhand are still fighting for these basic rights. Their demands include a separate cell and a toilet at the government (sadar) hospital. They also want separate toilets in community buildings, shelter homes and public places. They are of the view that other state governments are making these facilities available to the transgender community.

Jamshedpur comes under the East Singbhum district. When Manjunath Bhajantri, the district collector of Jamshedpur, was asked about the problems faced by transgenders, he said that the matter will be reviewed and asked us to get in touch with the concerned department as he was busy.

In Jharkhand, there is no policy that links transgenders to employment opportunities. Even after nine years of the Supreme Court’s judgment, no transgender welfare board has been set up. In recent years, Tata is the only private company that has given employment to around 100 transgenders in Jharkhand. However, Amrita Alpesh Soni, who has worked with state tribal welfare department for three years (2019-2022), is of the view that these jobs don’t match the qualifications of transgenders.

Soni acknowledges that there is a lack of education among the transgender community members and hence they are not aware of their constitutional rights. “The government is aware, yet, it does not bestow us with our rights. Constitution states that every being on this earth has the right to live. However, the Jharkhand government does not consider them as living beings. There are shelter homes for women, children, and senior citizens, but not for transgenders. If a transgender gets murdered or is sexually exploited, a case does not get registered,” says Soni.

They had met the state health minister on December 1, 2022, and had requested him to set up the transgender welfare board. When the minister was reached out to know about the status while writing the story, he was unavailable for comment.

Shergill says that because families don’t accept transgenders and they have nowhere to go, some of them are forced to dance or sing and beg for money. “Children belonging to the transgender community are very intelligent. If they are enrolled in schools, they will do very well. They will be able to provide for themselves in the future,” says Shergill.

She feels that transgenders will get their rights only when a transgender welfare board is set up. Two months ago, she filed a petition in the Jharkhand High Court for the same.

The Department of Women and Child Development and Social Security sent a proposal in June to the Cabinet suggesting that a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 should be given to the 14,000-odd transgenders in the state. This proposal has not been sanctioned yet.

Talking about whether these schemes will actually reach the transgenders, Sonal Tiwari, advocate, Jharkhand High Court, says, “It’s not difficult for the government to provide funds for all these schemes. In fact, all the transgenders in the state must have transgender cards. The government should at least ensure that.”


He adds: “The state government is responsible for providing the transgender community all the rights and benefits. There is a mandate of a transgender welfare board in each state. This board has been formed in 10 states, however, the Jharkhand government has not been able to form the board yet.”

(Translated By Kaveri Mishra)