At least 132 people on Friday participated in the first-ever athletics meet for transgender persons organised by the Kerala government at Thiruvananthapuram’s Central Stadium. The first-of-its-kind tournament saw them taking part in popular track and field events such as sprint, relay race, shot put and long jump.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs AC Moideen and the Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran were part of the organising committee. Each district council in Kerala appointed a coach and allotted a ground for the participants to train for three days before the tournament, reported DNA.

Event co-ordinator Anil Arjunan said the State Sports Commission held workshops for coaches and sports authorities before the event. “Coaches from all the districts were invited to Thiruvananthapuram,” he told DNA. “We told them who is a transgender is, as it is an umbrella term, and discussed the issues that the community faces and factors that have stopped them from participating in sports.”

The initiative was welcomed by members of the marginalised community. “I had been selected in the state team for 400 m relay at the age of 15,” Sreekutty, a participant, told The Times of India. “In the years that followed, I had to take a back seat from such sports events due to persistent social stigma. After these many years I am so excited to participate in a sports meet. This time, I am going to try my luck in shot put.’’