The majority of India’s transgender community is not enrolled to vote, according to figures released by the country’s Electoral Commission.
A 2011 census revealed that there are 41,000 transgender people in the state of Maharashtra, yet just 1,654 of them are enrolled to vote.
Activist Harish Iyer says the reason for such a low figure is that the transgender community—known as hijras—is excluded from the enrolment process.
“Since most hijras don’t have a proper home and many of them lack Aadhaar (a unique identity number) and other ID cards, they would remain out of the EC’s campaign.”
Iyer says that because the right-wing government does not support the hijra community, its agencies are not making any extra effort to include them.
Transgender people are also less likely to enrol because they feel powerless within the Indian society.
“Most of us think our fate is not going to be changed even if we vote. That is why we are so reluctant," says Suhana (name changed), a hijra who collects money at a traffic signal in Thane.
In 2014, India’s supreme court ruled that transgender people would be recognised on official documents under a third gender category yet hijras still face violence and discrimination.