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PMC polls: For only transgender candidate, elections ‘a chance to gain respect’

“People may laugh or snigger, but at least they listen to me when I go door-to-door and ask them to give me a chance... all we want is a chance to gain the respect of people,” said Sushma

PMC, transgender elections, transgender elections india, PMC transgender elections, Pune civic polls, pune elections, lgbt, lgbt rights, latest news Sushma Vidhate is contesting from Panel 20 (D) — Tadiwala Road

Of the 1,090 candidates in the fray for the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) elections, she is the sole transgender one. But Sushma Vidhate, 30, is undeterred by the heavyweights contesting against her from Panel 20 (D) – Tadiwala Road.

“People may laugh or snigger, but at least they listen to me when I go door-to-door and ask them to give me a chance… all we want is a chance to gain the respect of people,” said Sushma. “Women are joining me in the campaign… we have been going to various areas and telling people how we can resolve some of the local issues, such as garbage disposal,” she added.

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Sushma, who has had a tough life ever since she was kicked out of home at the age of 12, soon learnt to deal with her transgender identity. For years, Sushma was unable to get a job and worked as a domestic help. “Everybody makes fun of us. People from my community are brutally teased and then exploited,” she said. Today, she is struggling to raise money for her election campaign. “We have finished spending Rs 1 lakh, raised by my chelas, and now we are focussing on the door-to-door campaign,” she said.

An informal hierarchy is followed in the transgender community, where a guru or mother looks after her chela or daughter. The relationship offers security and safety to young transgenders, who have been ostracised by their families. “I became a guru at the age of 16,” said Sushma, who has 17 chelas. “They helped me raise money for the election campaign”.

While the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the ‘third gender’, granting them political and economic rights, Sushma detailed the many hardships faced by the community: “We still face discrimination. There is no reservation for jobs. Our community still has to beg for alms and there is a dire need for financial security, as we can’t keep dancing at events and earn money in our old age.”

“We have promised to help build homes for the poor and put up a strong demand for reservations in jobs… we just need one chance,” said Sushma, who is also the president of the Pune Sangharsh Samiti.

First published on: 18-02-2017 at 05:34:02 am
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