The Government of Odisha formulated an umbrella scheme ‘Sweekruti’ to secure the rights of transgender persons and ensure equitable justice. It recognises that transgender persons are subject to discrimination and hardships in society.
The main objectives of the scheme are to create an enabling environment for transgender persons, ensure their participation and social integration, strengthen the implementation of various schemes and facilities, and promote measures for employment and socio-educational services for transgender persons.
The key strategies proposed to implement the scheme and make the services available to the transgender persons are:
- Survey and identify all transgender persons in the State, and issue certificates and multipurpose smart cards.
- Assist the parents of transgender children and provide pre and post-matric scholarship.
- Upgrade skills and entrepreneurship development training by strengthening self-help groups.
- Provide support for critical health care and group insurance support for transgender persons.
- Provide legal aid, counselling and guidance services for transgender persons.
- Organize awareness and sensitisation campaigns on rights of transgender persons and provide training to staff and volunteers.
SURVEY AND IDENTIFICATION
The scheme notes that there is no definitive data on the number of transgender persons in the State. It proposes that the State should conduct regular surveys of the number of transgender persons with the assistance of transgender associations. This will ensure that transgender persons enroll themselves in the schemes and programmes instituted for their benefit.
A Multipurpose SMART Card will be provided to all transgender persons. This will enable enrolment in schemes and provision of services. It will also assist in monitoring the benefits utilised and which services are required by transgender persons.
ASSISTANCE TO PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER PERSONS
The scheme discusses providing awareness and sensitisation to parents to provide support to their gender non-conforming children. This is particularly relevant because transgender children are at the risk of being bullied. They are also more likely to face violence within the extended family and in schools.
The scheme places importance on providing counselling and mental health services for the child and the parents. explains the details on financial support to the parents who need it, after examining their eligibility. It also proposes financial support for parents of transgender children to assist in raising them and as a first step towards providing educational scholarships. Finally, it lays down the eligibility criteria and method of disbursement in detail.
PRE- AND POST- METRIC SCHOLARSHIPS
The scheme provides for scholarships for transgender students to help them complete their education. It lays down the extent of scholarship for different categories of students in Odisha.
The scheme notes that transgender persons are not integrated into mainstream society and family life. It states that in order to address the effects of oppression and deprivation of transgender persons, the State should provide mental health and counselling support, personality development training, support for office furniture, equipment and other expenses.
SKILL UPGRADATION, TRAINING AND SELF-EMPLOYMENT
In order to increase employment opportunities for transgender persons, the scheme provides for assistance with skill upgradation, securing employment and engaging in income-generating activities.
Further, it suggests providing self-employment kits and encourages group endeavours to initiate income generating projects not exceeding a one-time investment of Rs. 20 lakhs. Similarly, self-help groups formed by transgender persons and registered with the District Social Security Office will be provided Rs. 50,000 for their initial activities.
SENSITISATION ON TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AND ENTITLEMENTS
The scheme notes that the provision of services and schemes for transgender persons requires various departments to act in coordination. Many employees in these departments often lack basic knowledge and understanding of issues that are central to the transgender community. Therefore, the policy provides that the State must make provisions to provide training to government employees, NGO heads, corporate managers etc.
Similarly, there is lack of awareness among the transgender community and their families on targeted welfare schemes. The scheme lists several participatory activities such as cultural programmes, TV/radio publicity, posters, publications of newsletters etc, which can generate awareness among the transgender community on their rights and entitlements.
RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION ON TRANSGENDER ISSUES
The scheme emphasises the significance of the research and documentation on transgender issues. It states that transgender persons have a range of rights based concerns including hate crime laws inclusion, equal rights in housing, employment non-discrimination, bathroom use, changing name and gender on public documents, marriage rights, medical insurance, and financial assistance. Since the lived experience of the transgender persons matters in determining future action, the scheme recognises the need for research support on transgender issues and rehabilitation models for their empowerment.
The scheme concludes that including transgender persons in existing government welfare schemes would address most of the problems faced by them. It places the obligation on coordinating and converging existing schemes on the District Administration. In particular, the scheme specifies that the Block Administration must (a) ensure coverage of transgender persons under various poverty alleviations schemes; (b) sensitize local leaders on transgender rights and issues; and (c) increase participation of community-based organisations at the grass root level.
READ THE FULL SCHEME HERE