Transgender Rights bill – A greyscale acceptance of the community

The Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill 2016 was introduced ‘to provide protection towards the rights of transgender and their welfare’. The Bill, however, while filling an extensive vacuum, fails almost entirely on the commitment to its stated objectives and goals. The bill has yet to have major rectification and formulation as it occasionally and rather explicitly insults transgender rights in its entirety, knowingly or unknowingly.

Transgenders, because of their divergence from predominant notions are subject to prejudice, discrimination and attacks. Transgenders tend to be homelessness, illiterate, diseased or either turn towards prostitution as a livelihood. Hence, there is an urgent need for a legislative bill protecting their rights and freedom.

“Transgender” – The Bill defines a flawed understanding

The very first part of the Bill defines a ‘Transgender Person’ who is “neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female or male; or neither female nor male; and whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at the time of birth.”

The definition is restrictive in using only binary yardsticks like ‘male’ and ‘female’. Further excluding multiple sociocultural identities like Shiv Shaktis, Hijras and Jogappas from its ambit. Combining intersex persons and transgenders as one entity reflects the ignorant mentally prevailing in bureaucracy itself, let alone society.

Transgender Identity: Guilted humiliation.

The major issue arises with the restriction of the constitutionally guaranteed right present in many countries of the world allowing a transgender person to self-identify their gender. However, on the contrary, the bill requires medical identification of transgenders which further deviates from the fundamental right of self-determination. The Bill requires a certificate of identity, basically meaning the determination is to be made by a Screening Committee consisting of the Chief Medical Officer, District Social Welfare Officer, Psychologist or Psychiatrist, one representative from the transgender community, and an officer nominated by the Government. Multiple activists have questioned the involvement of unnecessary procedures in order to determine the gender identity which will only insinuate the unruly practice of gender policing, the fact being that the Hijra community have already faced a lot of scrutiny and violence.

Seldom does our society try to understand, come to realise or even care for the trauma, suffering and pain which members of the Transgender community undergo, nor do they appreciate feelings of the members, especially of those whose mind and body disown their biological sex. Any consideration of their plight has to begin from the very fact of their personal identification. It is essential to incorporate all necessary revisions onto the bill in order to progress towards a just society which strives of inclusion and equality for the transgender community.

Article by: Ivan Coelho

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