A city in central India has elected the country’s first transgender mayor, nine months after a court ruled that transgender be recognized as a legal third gender, local media reported.
Madhu Kinnar, 35, won the mayoral election in Raigarh in the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh yesterday, beating her opponent from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party by more than 4,500 votes, the Press Trust of India reported in a story published on the news website Firstpost.com.
Television images showed a sari-clad Kinnar, with a large red bindi on her forehead, greeting supporters who placed marigold garlands around her neck.
Kinnar — who is from the Dalit or “low caste” community and used to earn a living singing and dancing in trains — said that she was overwhelmed by her election.
Activists say there are hundreds of thousands of transgender people in India, but because they were not legally recognized, they faced ostracism, discrimination, abuse and forced prostitution.
Last April, India’s Supreme Court recognized transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment.
While the landmark judgment was welcomed by human rights campaigners, many say it contradicts the court’s reinstatement of a gay sex ban that has resulted in an increase in the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, forcing many to conceal their sexual identity.