Madhu Kinnar (NDTV)
A transgender woman has broken new ground by winning the mayoral election in the Indian city of Raigarh.
Madhu Kinnar, 35, who stood as an independent candidate, won the election by 4,537 votes against her competitor Mahaveer Guruji, from the powerful BJP political party.
“People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams,” Kinnar told NDTV.
“It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner,” she added.
According to the Times of India, Kinnar had previously made a living by singing and dancing with other transgender people, often called eunuchs or hijra.
Believed to be India’s first transgender mayor, she said that her priorities in office would include “cleanliness and construction of drains” and that she would reinstate ration cards for impoverished people.
Transgender people often organise in communities in India but face poverty, discrimination and violence and are often forced to engage in sex work.
Kinnar’s election, however, comes amidst growing recognition of transgender people.
In April 2014, India’s Supreme Court ordered the Indian government to officially recognise transgender people as a third gender, allowing them to select the category of “transgender” in all official documents.
The court also ordered the government to include transgendered people in its welfare programmes aimed at vulnerable groups.
India’s election commission in 2009 allowed voters to choose an “other” option when registering to vote.