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Kerala becomes first state to organise transgenders' athletic meet

Thiruvananthapuram April 20:  What could be an assured, decisive step toward an end to discrimination against transgenders? The Kerala Government is turning to track and field for answers. 
The Kerala State Sports Council (KSSC) will, on April 28, organise a state-level athletic meet for transgenders at the Central Stadium here, in what could be India’s first sporting event with an all-transgender contestant line-up.
T P Dasan, KSSC President, said on Wednesday that the meet would not be a one-off event and the council expected it to double as impetus to the government’s efforts to bring the transgender community into the mainstream of the society.
“We expect about 20 participants from each of the 14 districts. Members of the transgender community organisations, along with the respective district sports councils, have commenced training,” he said.
The meet will feature 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints, 4 x 100 metres relay, long jump and shot put. S Sreekutty, president of the state Sexual and Gender Minorities Federation, said the meet was more significant as a rare, state-backed initiative held in association with the transgender community.
Kerala, in 2015, became the first state to unveil its own transgender policy.
The Federation, while welcoming efforts to bring the community to the mainstream, pointed out serious concerns over continuing harassment of transgender persons.
It believed that legal backing to transgender rights, particularly the Supreme Court’s landmark National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India judgment of 2014, had not been followed up with intent.
“It’s unfortunate that at times, even the police who are expected to provide us protection from such harassment are themselves the culprits.
A commission dedicated to deal with these issues will be a step forward,” Sreekutty told Deccan Herald.
KSSC officials, along with members of the transgender community, released the logo for the meet. A parade featuring the participants will be held ahead of the meet.
“This is a first in sport for the community which has, so far, only managed opportunities to display talents in art and music. But ultimately, it’s not only about competing,” Sreekutty said.