Empowering transgenders: Madhya Pradesh becomes 2nd state to have separate toilet for third gender

Efforts are now being made to end the social isolation of India's transgender community

Authorities are finally waking up to the needs and problems of transgenders. In April 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgender individuals as the third gender. States like Kerala also took significant steps to end their social isolation. A first of its kind sports event was organised for them at Thiruvananthapuram in May. The members of the community were also recruited in Kochi Metro and education programmes were also launched especially for them.

In a welcome development, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday inaugurated a public toilet exclusively for the use of the third gender in Bhopal. Notedly, Bhopal has become India’s second city after Mysuru to have a separate toilet facility for the community.

Speaking at the event, Chouhan said “The third gender is yet to get the respect it deserves. My government will ensure equal rights to them. The administration will also be directed to take stringent action against anti-social elements that defame the community.”

He also announced that he would convene a ‘third gender panchayat’ at his residence to redress their problems and provide an additional aid of Rs 1.5 lakh to members of the community for constructing houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Separate toilet facilities have always been a rallying point for transgender rights. Members of the community often find themselves in an awkward situation while choosing toilets (male and female). In April, the Centre had urged all the state governments to allow members from the third-gender to use public toilets of their choice.

Bhopal Mayor Alok Sharma claimed the toilet, constructed by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), was the first of its kind in the country.

A senior BMC official said the toilet, built at a cost of Rs 35 lakh, also had a “change room/make-up room”.

Different signs for men, women, handicapped and transgender people are emblazoned on the doors of the toilet.