Transgender

According to World Health Organization, Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and expression does not conform to the norms and expectations traditionally associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. They are referred to as transsexuals if they desire medical assistance in order to make the transition from one biological sex to another.

Transgender individuals are often ostracized by society and sometimes, even their own families view them as burdens and exclude them. A famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi is quite apt on the struggles of trans people in Indian society – “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you and then you win.”

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India, in the case of the National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India, established the foundation for the rights of transgender persons in India by recognising ‘transgender’ as a ‘third gender’ and laying down several measures for prohibition of discrimination against transgender persons and protection of their rights.

The judgment recommended reservations for transgenders in jobs and educational institutions and their right to declare the self-perceived gender identity without undergoing a sex reassignment surgery.

 

  • Discrimination: Transgender population remains one of the most marginalized groups. Sexuality or gender identity often makes transgender a victim of stigmatization and exclusion by the society
  • Ostracization: Transgender individuals are often ostracized by society and sometimes, even their own families view them as burdens and exclude them.
  • Poverty: In many cases, this lack of legal protection translates into unemployment for transgender people
  • Education: Transgender people are unable to access equal educational opportunities because of harassment, discrimination and even violence. Most transgender children are forced to drop out of schools as Indian schools remain unequipped to handle children with alternative sexual identities
  • Health: Transgenders frequently experience discrimination when accessing health care, from disrespect and harassment to violence and outright denial of service. The community remains highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV AIDS. According to a recent UNAIDS report, the HIV prevalence among transgenders in India is 3.1% (2017).
  • Mental health issues include depression and suicidal tendencies, and violence-related stress
  • Employment: They are economically marginalised and forced into professions like prostitution and begging for livelihood or resorting to exploitative entertainment industry.
  • Access to Public spaces and shelter: Transgenders face direct discrimination and denial while accessing houses or apartments. Further, they also face problems due to lack of provision of gender neutral/separate transgender toilets and discrimination in accessing public toilets
  • Civil Status: Possessing accurate and consistent identification documents has always been challenging for the transgender community.
  • Gender-based violence: Transgenders are often subjected to sexual abuse, rape and exploitation.
  • Gender and sexuality have always been varied and rooted in traditions of pluralism in India and other South Asian cultures.
  • Transgender population remains one of the most marginalized groups. Sexuality or gender identity often makes transgender a victim of stigmatization and exclusion by the society.
  • For instance, if you ask people in India what they know about trans people, most of them only answer that they have seen them begging near traffic signals and inside trains. Some start complaining about their ‘bad’ behavior.
  • Most transgenders belong to the poorer castes and classes, and economic marginalization structures their experiences very heavily.
  • Transgenders occupy a position in society that is simultaneously revered and stigmatized.
  • They are seen as having the power to curse or bless people, due to their spiritual heritage, and they are also seen as having a huge potential for embarrassment because they threaten to expose themselves physically if they are not paid for attending events such as weddings
  • Being The Parent of a Transgender Child Is Shameful: This is one of the most common prejudices present in society because of which people disown their own children to suffer alone in this world
  • Thus, these youths are “shunned by their own families (especially by male relatives)”, and experience familial physical violence.
  • Many children who adopt a transgender identity are forced to drop out from school because they are unable to survive the rigid gender norms imposed on them by their school authorities.
  • In workspaces, “trans-men especially are often stereotyped by their colleagues because of their visible “masculine” appearance and/or gender assertion/s. Hence, they easily become soft targets of violence and/or violation”.
  • They are economically marginalized and forced into professions like prostitution and begging for livelihood or resorting to exploitative entertainment industry.
  • Gender-based violence: Transgenders are often subjected to sexual abuse, rape and exploitation
  • Lastly, it is assumed that being Transgender Is a Choice and a Transgender Person Changes Sex to Date People of the Opposite Gender. No, it has already been proved in significant researches that being transgender is not a choice. It’s because of ignorance or lack of awareness regarding trans people in society that some people still think that being transgender is a choice.

Transgender Persons Act, 2019:

  • The Act states that a transgender person shall have the right to self-perceived gender identity. A certificate of identity can be obtained at the District Magistrate’s office and a revised certificate is to be obtained if sex is changed.
  • The Act has a provision that provides transgender the right of residence with parents and immediate family members.
  • The Act prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare etc.
  • It states that the offences against transgender persons will attract imprisonment between six months and two years, in addition to a fine.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020

  • The Central Government made the rules under the powers conferred by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
  • The Act came into effect on 10th January 2020, which is the first concrete step towards ensuring welfare of transgender persons.
  • The rules seek to recognise the identity of transgenders and prohibit discrimination in the fields of education, employment, healthcare, holding or disposing of property, holding public or private office and access to and use of public services and benefits.

National Portal for Transgender Persons:

  • It has been launched in consonance with the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.
  • It would help transgenders in digitally applying for a certificate and identity cardfrom anywhere in the country, thus preventing any physical interaction with officials.
  • It willhelp them track the status of application, rejection, grievance redressal, etc. which will ensure transparency in the process.
  • The issuing authorities are also understrict timelines to process the applications and issue certificates and I-cards without any necessary delays.

National Council for Transgender Persons:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons, a requirement under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
  • The National Council for Transgender Persons will consist of:
    • Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson)
    • Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice-Chairperson)
    • Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice
    • One representative from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.
    • Other members include representatives of the NITI Aayog and the National Human Rights Commission. State governments will also be represented. The Council will also consist of five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organizations.

Garima Greh:

  • It has been opened in Vadodara, Gujaratand will be run in association with the Lakshya Trust, a community-based organisation entirely run by the transgenders.
  • The Scheme of ‘Shelter Home for Transgender Persons’includes shelter facility, food, clothing, recreational facilities, skill development opportunities, yoga, physical fitness, library facilities, legal support, technical advise for gender transition and surgeries, capacity building of trans-friendly organizations, employment, etc.
  • The scheme will rehabilitate a minimum of 25 transgender personsin each homes identified by the Ministry.
  • A multi-prolonged approach with focus on public awareness campaigns is needed to eliminate the social stigma associated with the transgender community.
  • Large scale sensitization needs to happen starting from the school level to accept the transgender community integral component of societal life.
  • Legal and the law enforcement systems need to be empowered and sensitized on the issues of Transgender community.
  • Stringent criminal and disciplinary action must be taken against the people who commits violence against Transgender.
  • The establishment of National Council for Transgender Persons which seeks to increase awareness and inculcate sense of respect and acceptance for transgender community, is a welcome step.
  • However, only with the effective functioning of the council whether it will able to identify the issues faced by the transgender community and accordingly advice the government.
  • Apart from policies and regulations, there is also a need for an inclusive approach, sensitising legal and law enforcement systems in particular towards the issues of transgender community.
  • The negative attitudes held by people can help us understand the barriers faced by them in gaining social acceptance.
  • Future awareness programmes should focus on removing these barriers.
  • Better understanding of the problems and challenges faced by transgender will help in bringing about the changes in policies and give them their due rights.