The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a programme, SMILE – Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise, which includes sub-scheme, Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons. The purpose of this sub-scheme is to provide rehabilitation, medical facilities, assistance, mental health counselling, education, skills development and economic linkages to transgender persons.
The ministry is in the process of setting up 12 shelters for transgender people named Garima Greh and providing financial assistance to community-based organisations that establish these facilities.
In the first phase, the shelters will be set up in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar. The purpose of these homes is to provide food, medical care and other basic amenities to the third gender.
In addition, the SMILE scheme has a provision for a Transgender Protection Cell under the charge of the Director-General of Police to monitor cases of offences against transgender persons and ensure timely registration, investigation and prosecution of such offences.
The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, which caters to the welfare of backward classes and those with disabilities, was allocated Rs.13,134 crore in the Union Budget 2022-23, a 12 percent increase from the last fiscal. However, certain crucial schemes of the ministry, including SMILE, Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNT/NT/SNTs (SEED), Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi (PM DAKSH) Yojana and Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers saw a budget cut. Under the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, the budget for central sector schemes was allocated Rs.969.50 in 2022-23, a drop from Rs 1,395 crore in 2021-22.
The ministry launched National Portal for Transgender Persons on November 25, 2020. Any transgender applicant can obtain a certificate of identity and identity card without any physical interface with the office of issue. The person who has been issued a certificate of identity is entitled to change the first name in the birth certificate and all other official documents relating to the identity.
During the lockdown period in the Covid-19 pandemic, a helpline was set up to provide psychological support through trained psychologists to transgender persons in distress.