Transgender Bathrooms Opened In Central India

The facilities in Bhopal are the first specifically for trans people in the country.

A dedicated public restroom for transgender people was inaugurated in Bhopal, India, today by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Mayor Alok Sharma said the facilities are only for kinnars, also known as hijras, who are often the victims of attacks and even kidnappings. Its the first bathroom for transgender people in the country, according to Amarujala. City counselors are also working on providing safe housing.

Today's event is part of a larger citywide celebration of Gandhi's birthday. (Bhopal held its first Pride celebration this past May.)

Third-gender people have been a part of Indian culture since antiquity but with British colonialism came persecution and marginalization. Many kinnar have no job prospects except for begging or sex work.

That's beginning to change: The Supreme Court recognized transgender as a distinct gender in 2014 and passed a trans rights bill the following year. More and more companies are drafting trans-friendly policies and actively looking to hire transgender employees—including tech businesses, police and taxi companies.

Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

BHOPAL, INDIA - MAY 17: Transgender activist cum actor Kalki Subramaniam along with other LGBT community members during central India`s first gay pride parade taken out to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, 2017 in Bhopal, India. (Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The 2011 census recorded half a million transgender people in India, but activists put the number closer to 2 million.

“The biggest challenge in India is the mindset. They connect transgender to people who beg on the streets, do sex work or sing at weddings,” Rashmi Vikram of Community Business told Reuters. “We still have a long way to go. A lot more work needs to be done.”

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