Transgender groups in Kolkata organized a state level meet 'Rehabilitation and Welfare of Transgender Community' to discuss if the tag 'third gender' is acceptable to them, and various other welfare issues related to them.

The meet was chaired by State Minister for Women and Social Welfare, Shashi Panja and social activist, Anupam Hazra.

Nearly 40 transgender groups and committees attended the meeting and voiced their grievances and feedbacks regarding the Supreme Court ruling for their rights. They said that gays in India continue to face a social disgrace where hugging in public among homosexual couples is acknowledged as a disgraceful act.

Panja said that the government is drawing up a plan with the help of NGOs working on the issue to protect the rights of the transgenders. She also added that they were going to set up a separate welfare board for transgenders under her department.

"We will begin by ascertaining the number of people belonging to the third gender and will then provide them with the required health facilities," the minister said.

It is estimated that the transgender population in West Bengal is around five to six lakhs.

Ranjita Sinha who leads the Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal (ATHB) said that the biggest problem they face today is the issue of their identity.

"We want identity and recognition as the third sex. Setting up a board for us is extremely important. We want entitlement to all our basic human rights," the activist said.

JPN

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