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Passport delays keep transgenders grounded

in INDIA, 12/10/2013

Getting a passport is supposed to take around 45 days. But Akkai Padmashali, a transgender and sexual minorities activist, had to wait 95 days to get hers.

She claimed that her ordeal finds resonance among many transgenders who talk of delays in obtaining documents and tedious procedures at passport offices. Akkai, who was earlier Jagadish J, wanted a new passport to show both her new name and gender. She changed her name in April this year. Akkai said she had all her documents in place when she applied for a passport on June 6. However, it took her several trips to the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Koramangala to finally get the passport in hand on September 17.

By then, Akkai had already missed a conference of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that was held at Geneva in July and for which she had been invited to represent sexual minorities in India.

“Had I received my passport on time, I would not have missed it,” said a visibly upset Akkai. She demanded that the Ministry of External Affairs make special provisions in this regard for transgenders, especially those who undergo sex reassignment surgery. “Most of us are shunned by our families who snatch our documents. After that, if we undergo sex reassignment, it is harder for us to prove our identity,” she said.

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