New Delhi: After the government announced a ban on big currency on November 8, there was a rush of panic among the transgender community in India. In absence of any valid id-proofs and bank accounts, many in the transgender community had to bear loss of money.
Ritika Shergill, a transgender and volunteer at Kinnar Bharati, doesn’t have any legal documents to open a bank account. She said, “If I ask a land lord to provide me a rent agreement that can be produced as a proof of living, they deny it.”
“Like many of my transgender friends, I too lost money after the notes ban. We relied on neighbours and friends to help us exchange old currency notes and they exploited our situation by charging a commission.”
“To get Rs 15,000 exchanged, I had to bear a loss of Rs 5,000. If I had a bank account, situation would have been different,” she said.
33-year-old Bobby echoed similar experience. She said, “I don’t have a bank account so gave Rs 10,000 to my neighbor for exchange. He deducted Rs 3,000 and returned Rs 7,000 to me. Poonam, another transgender, said that she gave Rs 40,000 to her neighbour but received Rs 30,000 in return.”
According to the Census 2011, India has 4.9 lakh transgenders.
In 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as ‘third gender’. Till then, they were being counted as men in the survey.
According to 2011 Census report, Uttar Pradesh has highest transgender population of 1,47,000 transgenders, followed by Andhra Pradesh (44,000), Maharashtra (41,000), Bihar (41,000) and Bengal with 30,000 transgenders.
Abheena Aher, transgender activist, told NDTV, “Transgenders don’t have documentation. When you are running away from home, you hardly have any documentation. When you to go to a bank, you are a mocked at by people. Also, if I am standing in line to take out my own money, I don’t know which line to stand in, the line meant for men or women.”
She further said that only 20-30 per cent have bank accounts and better arrangements would have ensured they all had bank accounts.
Kiran Sakhi was among those transgenders who had a bank account. She used to work on the streets, but now, with the support from her family, she has a steady job in the social sector.
She said that she did not face any problem in banking, but her friends did.
“My transgender friends had a lot of problems, they asked me for help. However, unfortunately, as per the government norms, I didn’t want to get into anything illegal. Even though I wanted to help them, I didn’t,” she said.