In India, the union territory of Delhi will soon begin offering free public transportation to so-called “third gender” individuals who identify as transgender.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, announced on Monday that the local government would cover the costs of bus transportation for self-identified transgenders, ostensibly because “the transgender community is largely neglected in our social environment. This should not happen, they are also human beings and they also have equal rights.” “Soon it will be passed by the cabinet and implemented,” Kejriwal said. “I have full hope that this decision will greatly benefit the people of the transgender community.”
The move would apparently represent an extension of an already-existing policy in Delhi. Since October 2019, women have also been able to utilize the local public transportation system without charge. Those wishing to be considered for the initiative will be required to utilize certificates which are issued by Delhi’s revenue department. The certificates will be issued according to data on hand from the social welfare department, which will be consolidated under the transportation department. Of course, the question remains as to why free public transport has not been extended to all residents of Delhi.
The free transportation initiative has growth out of an earlier initiative undertaken by the local government in Delhi. In April 2023, the Delhi High Court demanded that the city make a decision concerning the addition of transgenders as a “third gender” on Delhi Transport Corporation bus tickets.
The proposition was advocated for by a local self-identified transgender, who filed a contempt plea that demonstrated the government had not taken action within the four-month deadline allotted to decide. The transgender community of Delhi is allegedly 4,213 strong, part of a total population of 490,000 in India, representing roughly 0.03 percent of the 1.4 billion people living in India.
With a population proportion of 0.03 percent, it seems that it is less of a question of how Delhi would be able to afford the cost, and more of a question of why the local government is so driven to extend this initiative to such a small portion of the population.