An Equal India: EC Appoints First Transgender Woman as Presiding Officer for Bihar Polls


An Equal India: EC Appoints First Transgender Woman as Presiding Officer for Bihar Polls

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

In a landmark moment for LGBTQ representation in Indian society, a transgender woman from Patna has been appointed as the presiding officer for a polling station in the upcoming Bihar Legislative Assembly elections. Monika Das, a 32-year-old banker, is the first-ever transgender person to be appointed as a presiding poll officer in independent India’s history. Her responsibilities as a presiding poll office will involve ensuring the smooth functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) at her booth, as well as complying with directives from the district electoral officer.

Das has an impressive background, graduating as a gold medallist from Patna University with a law degree. For the past five years, she has been working at a bank. Her selection as a presiding poll officer is a victory for the transgender community, which can often be underrepresented in public life.

Reshma Prasad, a member of the National Council for Transgender Persons in New Delhi, welcomed the news. “It is a proud moment for us that EC has selected and honoured a person from our community. It is a challenging job, and Monika would do it with devotion and hard work,” she said. Bihar’s chief electoral officer, HR Srinivasa, has said that Das will be given the requisite training along with others selected as presiding poll officers in Patna on 8 October.

Though Das is the first transgender woman to be appointed presiding poll officer during an election, she is not the first transgender woman to take on election duties. That honour goes to Riya Sarkar from West Bengal, who was selected as a polling officer in Kolkata during the 2016 election. However, Das is happy to provide further representation for the transgender community. “Many transgender people still do not like to come out in the open due to the fear of rejection by society. This recognition would boost their morale,” she said in a The Times of India report.

The Bihar election is likely to be fiercely contested, but where Das’ appointment is concerned at least, there seems to be an agreement in favour.