Telangana prisons too prejudiced against transpersons

This issue came to light recently when an accused who claimed he is a transman was arrested last week in Kushaiguda police limits for theft of cars. 

Published: 17th January 2019 03:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2019 03:42 AM   |  A+A-

Illustration: Amit bandre

Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  It’s a prison in a prison for transgender prisoners who find themselves in the jails of the State, as there is no Standard Operating Procedure in place to deal with each case. This issue came to light recently when an accused who claimed he is a transman (born a woman but adopted the identity of man) was arrested last week in Kushaiguda police limits for theft of cars. 

The police, however, were in a fix where to send him as his appearance was that of a man. There was no clarity on the genitalia of the accused, which if that of a woman could land the prisoner in serious trouble with male inmates.

At present, the prisons and police in Telangana, get the genitalia of the prisoners medically examined by an in-house medical officer to decide in which prison they must be kept, which is in violation of the 2014 NALSA judgement of the Supreme Court. The judgment had noted that ‘self-identification' is the only way a trans person's identity must be determined and such a person doesn’t require medical tests’.

However, in practice here and the majority of other states, one’s genitalia determines which jail the prisoner is fit to be in, irrespective of their actual identity. “For example, if there is a transwoman who identifies herself as a woman and has male genitals, but would not want to be in a male prison.  Since she has male genitals, that person will be put in a male jail, where she may be discriminated and even abused into homosexual acts,” noted Rachana Mudraboyina, a transgender rights activist. 

This is applicable to trans-men, who identify as male but have female genitalia. In this case, their male appearance may be a cause of worry for female prisoners, note experts. It is also alleged that trans-women are made to shave their long hair, remove their jewellery and other markings of femininity and forced to wear male clothes in the jails in Telangana, which psychologically can be a traumatic experience for a person who identifies himself or herself as a woman.

Though sex reassignment surgeries (SRS) are possible, and a valid option, it must be noted that SRS are highly complex and cost anywhere between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh for trans-women wanting to remove male genitals.

For trans males, there are minimum two surgeries which are more complex and cost up to `4 to 5 lakh. The discrimination is present even if both transmen and transwomen undergo sex change surgeries as their genitals may never look like a cisgendered person. “Though a male genital organ is something they hate, very few who do get it done. They are also discriminated in the jails,” adds Chandramukhi Muvvala, a transgender rights activist.

Common crimes 
Extortion, obscenity and nuisance are the common crimes the transpersons are arrested for in Telangana 
10 
Approximate number of transwomen (with sex reassignment surgeries done) in special women’s prison in 2018. Five such persons are in prison in 2019. There are no transmen, who underwent such operations, in prisons

Plan shelved 
In 2018, DG of Prisons VK Singh proposed to open a petrol bunk which was to be fully run by transgenders. However, the plan was shelved

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