Four-year-old transgenders? A unique identity indeed…
* A four-year-old girl has been stamped a transgender.
* A boy born in 2006 in Haveri has been identified as transgender in his Aadhaar card (number XXX960).
* Yet another seven-year-old boy’s gender in his Aadhaar card (XXX462) is a T, meaning transgender.
* A 15-year-old girl from Yellapura, Uttara Kannada, is also recognised as transgender in her Aadhaar card.
The term ‘transgender’ is defined to convey ‘a person whose self-identity does not conform to conventional notions of male or female gender’. Since it’s difficult to 8fathom a four-year-old grappling with issues of gender identity or a teen choosing option ‘T’, one wonders how the government arrived at such a conclusion.
In fact, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has compiled the latest data of Aadhaar enrolments in the state, has tagged 406 children between the ages of four and 17 years as transgender. This includes six kids aged five years. Of the five crore-odd populace registered so far, 2,920 transgenders in various age brackets have been brought into the Aadhaar fold. However, the ludicrous botch-up in the ambitious scheme to assign every citizen of India a unique identity by way of a12-digit Aadhaar number with a card containing details of the person raises questions on the credibility of the data.
Fingers are being pointed at data entry operators who have erroneously and callously entered ‘T’ instead of ‘M’ or ‘F’ options (Aadhaar application form has Male, Female and Transgender). Officials blame it on privatisation of enrolments, saying there is no accountability on the part of the vendors to whom work is outsourced. However, when contacted by BM, assistant director general of UIDAI, in-charge of Karnataka, Anjali Ellis Shankar was not aware of the issue. “Unless I see the data, I will not be able to comment. You can check with the technology centre from where the data is uploaded,” she said.
So far, total Aadhaar numbers generated as per UIDAI in Karnataka is 5,05,52,602 vis-a-vis the 2011 census of 6,10,49,446, which means the coverage is 82.81%. This includes 2,920 transgenders. But going by the data available with Bangalore Mirror, the actual number of sexual minorities is now in doubt.
Experts’ views would bear this out too. “Identifying a transgender in the 0 to 4 years age group is just impossible. Even the 5-17 years’ category is not accurate,” says sexual minority activist Akkai Padmashali. According to her, a child becomes aware of his/her gender conflict only by around 10 years.
“I realised my feelings by the time I turned eight years and it took some more years for me to figure I am a girl in a boy’s body. You face so much of conflict in your body about your gender which can only be clear by teenage years.
“Only after 18 years, we allow them in our community. These kind of factual blunders in Aadhaar data send out a wrong signal about the community,” added Padmashali, also the founder member of Ondede, an organisation that works for the uplift of sexual minorities and child rights.
According to Dr S Saldanha, a gynaecologist who treats sexual minorities, her patients in this category are usually between the ages of 18 and 20 years and sometimes even 25 years. “A child can understand the feelings, but without awareness it’s not possible to express. Sexual education, teachers, parents and experts can help in this regard,” says Dr Saldanha.