Bharathi Kannamma, trans woman and prominent queer rights activist, is contesting the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly elections this year from the Madurai South constituency. She is competing for the seat on a New Generation People’s Party ticket.
“I am proud to be contesting in the election as a transgender for the first time in India,” she told news agency ANI. “We have no family so we will not be corrupt. I appeal to the people of Tamil to vote for me.”
Bharathi’s agenda includes a promise of government jobs, ration plans and healthcare for the people of Madurai. Ahead of election, she also impresses upon the need to secure reservations for trans persons in legislature.
“I will provide one government job to every family once I win the elections. Everyone will get ration enough for three meals a day. I will come up with a restaurant plan… It’s necessary to give trans persons reservations for contesting elections.”
Bharathi Kannamma: Looking At Her Journey And Work
As momentous as Bharathi Kannamma’s election candidature is this year, it is not the first time she is making her presence felt in politics. In 2014, she gained global prominence for becoming the first trans woman to ever run for elections in India, soon after Parliament passed the landmark Rights of Transgender Persons Bill.
On a limited budget, she was an independent candidate in the general election from Madurai, with a vision of anti-corrupt governance and good living standards for all. In 2019, she filed candidature once again for the same seat. Her manifesto that time around carried reforms in wealth ceiling and employment in the state.
“When people come to see me talk, they have certain set notions. It is only when they hear what I have to say and see me in person that they can get past the fact that I am a transgender”: Bharathi Kannamma
Her educational background includes a Bachelors in economy, Masters in sociology, Diploma in computer engineering and a Doctorate in sociology.
Now 60 years old, this is Bharathi’s third attempt at winning a political seat in Tamil Nadu. Locals have expressed appreciation for her social work and hailed the candidature of a trans woman.
Image Credit: Tom Pietrasik