Voters in an Indian city on Sunday elected a transgender woman as their next mayor.
New Delhi Television reported that Madhu Kinnar, who ran as an independent, defeated Mahaveer Guruji of the Bharatiya Janata Party by 4,537 votes in the election that took place in Raigarh in the state of Chhattisgarh in central India.
“People have shown faith in me,” said Madhu after her election, according to New Delhi Television. “I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams.”
New Delhi Television reported that Kinnar is a Dalit that are designated as untouchable under the Indian caste system.
Some observers and politicians have concluded Kinnar won the election because anger over corruption within the BJP that Prime Minister Narenda Modi leads prompted voters to vote against Guruji. Advocates nevertheless welcomed the results as a step forward for trans Indians.
“It’s a very good start in the beginning of the year for the trans community,” Simran Shaikh of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance told the Washington Blade on Monday.
Neha Nambier, an LGBT rights advocate in Bangalore, agreed.
“It’s quite a stride,” she told the Blade.
Kinnar’s election comes nearly a year after the India Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling that recognizes trans people as a “third gender.”
She will join a growing number of trans people around the world who hold elected office.
Anna Grodzka in 2011 became the first trans member of the Polish Parliament.
Petra De Sutter three years later won a seat in the Belgian Senate. Luisa Revilla Urcia last October became the first openly trans person elected to a public office in Peru after she won a seat on a local council in the province of Trujillo.
Shabnam Bano was a member of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1998-2003. Voters in 1999 elected Kamla Mausi as the mayor of Sagar in the same central Indian state.
Bano and Mausi are hijra and eunuch — those who do not identify as either male or female — respectively. The India Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling includes both of these groups that feature prominently in Hindu mythology and religious texts in its definition of transgender.
“Kinnar’s win caps several remarkable months for the transgender community,” Vikram Doctor of the Times of India newspaper told the Blade on Monday.
Shaikh added she feels Kinnar will face “high expectations” because she is the first trans woman elected to public office after last April’s India Supreme Court ruling.