Kerala mulls country's first transgender-inclusive disaster management programme

·4-min read

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 28 (PTI) The transgender community will soon play a key role in disaster management in Kerala as the state government is gearing up to make it inclusive of the marginalised group, for the first time in the country.

Authorities are mulling roping in the thirdgender in its disaster management programme and utilise their services during the time of emergencies besides strengthening their emergency response capabilities and survival skills, official sources said.

In the wake of increasing natural disasters in recent times, the state Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) is contemplating implementation of a Transgender-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction programme in the state, which is first of its kind in the country.

The southern state, which had suffered two massive floods in consecutive years recently, already has a successful Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction model, which had garnered wide national acclaim.

Recent natural disasters, especially the floods which had hit the state in the years 2018 and 2019, have persuaded the SDMA to envisage a disaster management model involving people from all stratas of life especially the vulnerable communities.

'We generally think that disasters equally affect everyone and all are prone to risk, But, the truth is not like that. Vulnerable groups are more prone to risk.

Children, senior citizens, differently abled people, transgenders and so on are more vulnerable to disasters,' Joe John George, state project officer, SDMA, told PTI.

Keeping this in mind the southern state had brought out the country's first Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction model in 2015, to help differently abled people, he noted.

Under the initiative, differently abled people had been given district-wise training on various aspects to face calamities- right from giving first aid to preparing emergency-kits.

'Our disability inclusive disaster model has won national attention as there was no such prior model or guideline in the country.

We are planning the transgender-inclusive programme also on this model and it is also for the first time in the country,' he said.

Compared to differently-abled people, who need more physical help and support during the time of emergencies, the TG community is facing a different kind of vulnerability, he said.

'TGs are there in our society always, But, still they are facing one or other kind of social exclusion and a stigma is always attached to them.

But, they are a very empowered group and are willing to help others,' the official said.

As many as 58 transgenders had registered with the government's emergency response team, formed after the recent floods, to volunteer their service during the time of emergencies.

The marginalised group was actively involved in various programmes in relief camps including community kitchen and medicine distributionduring the time of floods, he said.

Detailing the new initiative, George said the third gender people are envisaged as both recipient and active participant.

As a vulnerable group, they would be given training on the dos and don'ts during calamities and would also ensure that they are not excluded from any programmes related to disaster management in the name of their gender.

All programmes and training sessions related to disaster management would be made TG-inclusive.

'We will work out a strategy and implementation mechanism in this regard and soon discuss it with the state Social Justice Department.

All government and other agencies related to transgenders including Transgender Justic Board are expected to be part of the initiative,' George added.

As a prelude to the initiative, an online meeting was conducted by the SDMA on October 27, in which TG representatives from various districts took part besides Sekhar L Kuriakose, member secretary, SDMA and Joe George.

Transgender activist Sheethal Shyam welcomed the government decision and said the TG community was already an active participant in various initiatives during the time of floods and Corona pandemic.

'We always part in various drives according to our capacity during the time of emergencies.

Though many of our members were struggling hard to make both ends meet, we try to extend maximum support and help the distressed people,' she told PTI.

She also said the new development would help gain the marginalised group more acceptance in the society. PTI LGK ROH ROH