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First transgender mayor elected in India

By Danielle Haynes

RAIGARH, India, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The town of Raigarh, India, on Sunday elected the country's first transgender mayor, Madhu Kinnar.

Kinnar, 35, an Independent candidate of the lowest Dalit caste, beat her opponent by 4,537 votes, an election official said. She ran against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Mahaveer Guruji.

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"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 said of her win.

Prior to her win, Kinnar supported herself by singing and dancing on trains. She said she didn't spend much money on her campaign.

"I only spent Rs 60,000-70,000 [$946-$1,104] from my earnings during my campaign. 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," Kinnar said.

Kinnar's election comes nine months after India's Supreme Court recognized the right for people to self-identify their gender, including a third gender that doesn't encompass the traditional male and female.

"While this electoral victory is a major advancement for the transgender community, the larger LGBT community in India still faces discrimination as the court recently reinstated a ban on same-sex activity," said Ashley Fowler, assistant for Human Rights Campaign Global.

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