The trouble with the Transgender persons bill

In 2014, the Supreme Court in the historic NALSA judgment stated transgender persons had the right to self-identify their gender.

Published: 03rd December 2019 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2019 03:16 AM   |  A+A-

Last week Parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill. To many, this may have seemed a significant and joyous occasion. But for members of the community it only served to prove how much India’s leaders must evolve to understand and respond to their needs.

In 2014, the Supreme Court in the historic NALSA judgment stated transgender persons had the right to self-identify their gender. This meant a trans person did not need to go to a state authority to be certified as the gender they identify as. Their own recognition was sufficient. The verdict also ordered that the state provide for reservations in education and employment.

Five years later, the Bill passed by Parliament betrays the rights assured by the verdict. There are at least five key flaws. First, despite the SC verdict, it requires a trans person to be certified as trans by a district magistrate. Further, until and unless the person undergoes sex reassignment surgery, the certificate will only recognise the person as transgender and not the gender they identify as. Second, it conflates trans persons and inter-sex persons. Third, it outlaws discrimination against trans persons but provides no penalties against such discrimination. Fourth, it clubs various forms of violence—from emotional to sexual abuse—under one head with a penalty of six months to two years, making it evident that the state believes sexual violence against trans persons is a crime of less gravity than against cisgender women. Fifth, despite the verdict’s call for reservations, the Bill makes no such provisions.

The Centre pushed through the legislation despite knowledgeable interventions by MPs calling for amendments. It did so over the vociferous objections of the communities whose rights it seeks to protect. While it is unlikely the President will refuse to sign the Bill into law, the communities and their allies can only count on the National Council for Transgender Persons envisaged by the Bill and the Rules that will give effect to the legislation to fill in at least some of the gaps and ensure some rights are fulfilled in implementation.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp