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To live authentically as who you are, no matter what the political or social climate is, affirms your fundamental and civil rights that are granted under the Constitution of India. This is equally applicable to trans people and gives every human the right to self-determine their gender.

Protests against Trans Bill 2018 in Kolkata. #StopTransBill | Pic by Rajorshi Das

According to 2011 Census data, it is estimated that the population of trans people in India is 4.9 lakh. The highest proportion, about 28%, was in Uttar Pradesh, 9% was in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar had 8% each, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal had over 6% and in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha, it was over 4%.

In spite of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment in April 2014 that made a sincere attempt to understand “identity”, the transgender community is still struggling.

It said, “Gender identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body which may involve a freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or functions by medical, surgical or other means and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. Gender identity, therefore, refers to an individual’s self-identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identified category.”

  • On December 17, 2018, The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed by Lok Sabha and it awaits the decision of Rajya Sabha.
  • While the bill says that it will protect the rights of transgender people, it denies self-determination of gender to the trans person, thereby violating 2014 NALSA judgment by the Supreme Court of India.
  • It gives absolute authority to a District Screening Committee to certify whether someone identifies as a transgender person or not. It mandates Sex Reassignment Surgery for someone to change their gender to male or female. However, a Supreme Court (SC) judgment grants self-identification – the Trans Bill entirely overrides this judgment.
  • The trans people are also vulnerable under the Anti-Trafficking Bill that targets victims of sex trafficking and criminalizes sex work.
  • It criminalizes the community for begging and simultaneously refuses to give any access to education and healthcare. The Trafficking bill passed in July 2018 compounds the criminalization of the transgender community, by providing a staggering 10 years of punishment for organized begging, which it calls a form of aggravated trafficking that goes beyond punishments for trafficking for forms of forced labor.
  • The bill also makes a mockery of justice by limiting the sentence of a rapist to just two years. It also does not distinguish between voluntary sex work and delineates it apart from trafficking. Above all, it violates the agency of people in sex work or begging to decide if they are trafficked or choosing these forms of work.

Despite recommendations of the Standing Committee, the government has shown no intent to engage with the community. Further, the Surrogacy Bill makes it evident that there were several attempts made to restrict bodies and kill livelihoods of these people.

On Friday, December 28, members of the transgender community staged a protest against the bill at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva addresses the protest meeting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi | Pic by Apeksha Priyadarshini

If you wish to support the #StopTransBill2018 campaign and fight the gender injustice in the country, you can donate here at MILAAP.

To know more about the campaign, click here.

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