Transgenders In India: An Insight Of Their Treatment And Protection As Per Global Standards

Author: Priyadarshini Goenka Student, National Law University, Odisha

Every individual who belongs to the Hijra community could identify themselves as a member of the above community and finds nobody to call them their own.

One of the most common reactions exerted is ‘Oh my god, the hijras are here’. Which is a mixture of negative opinions, laughter, fear, and since they are oddities.

Introduction

Transgender serves as an umbrella term that identifies individuals whose gender identity or expression whether masculine, feminine, or other is viewed as different from their respective sex (male or female) right from the time of their birth. The overall concept of ‘Gender Identity’ symbolizes an internal understanding of their gender norms or the gender with which they identify themselves. The term ‘Gender expression’ is used to designate an outward presentation that relates to their gender. However, the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation are different in their aspect.

The individuals residing in India have had records in terms of protesting against particular laws that initially claimed to take into consideration their fundamental right of the status of equal citizenship as per the provisions enlisted in the constitution. Furthermore, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed in the Upper House of the Parliament and later signed by the President himself. It stated the specific provisions of the law being unconstitutional by including the implementation at the district level, five-members screening committees that certified the gender insights concerned with the same and were addressed against the SC’s judgment that was dated back in 2014 which granted the right of self-recognition of gender to all its individuals.

Each individual is expected to live without enduring any fear that might exist in form of discrimination or violence that should be supported and affirmed being critical to a healthy routine, safe and fulfilling lifecycle. Considering the recent year where various laws, policies, and attitude that surrounds the life of an individual that has changed drastically over the years. The existing forms of discrimination being a confront that might seem challenging for the community to overcome the same.

Where Did The Transgender Bill Fail?

On 15th April 2014, the Supreme Court of India initiated one of its notable judgments in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs Union of India case, in which it declared the above individuals as the “third gender” in the country. Referring to the judgment it was envisaged that the transgender people would have the right to be treated at par the existing society under the Indian Constitution, the right to self-identification, and prominently the individuals are to be accepted as per societal norms and standards thereby classifying them as economically backward classes that makes them capable of reserving opportunities in jobs and educational institutions.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was initially addressed in the Lower House of the Parliament in August 2019 s it did away with some of the provisions that acted being controversial and later got addressed in the 2018 bill plan that sought to include the criminalization of begging, severe criticism faced and the fact that it doesn’t provide the individuals with the right of self-identification without having sex reassignment surgery. [1]

The Unusual Position Of The Third Gender In Our Country

Considering the recent situation that includes transgender and intersex people who are hard to miss. They are usually found decked up in glittering sarees, faces glazed in cheap makeup and they sashay through various crowded intersections knocking on car windows with the edge of a coin and blessings obtainable. They are found dancing at temples, crashing across weddings and birth ceremonies, singing refined songs, and leave-taking fistfuls of rupees. The majority of Indians are under the belief that they possess the power to bless or curse and trade-off such an air of perturbed ambivalence.[2]

The Transgenders Community Would Get Educational Reservations Under OBC Quota

In 2014 the Supreme Court ordered the respective governments to ensure the protection of the transgender community in jobs and educational institutions that operates at a parallel line with rules for other minorities. The Court later passed its judgment that recognized their rights and particularly pointed to the fact that they have equal opportunities to enjoy fundamental rights that are preserved in the constitution. According to the Economic Times, the Education Ministry stated the different ways that aimed at the implementation of a reservation system taking care of the individuals in higher educational institutions. Reports had pointed that the state shall undertake the OBC route in which they got classified as OBCs (Other Backward Castes).

According to an estimation formulated by India, about two million transgender people have been residing in our land. Activists have envisioned that they continue to live in the fringes, often in extreme conditions like poverty, detested only on the grounds of their gender identity. They derive most of their living expenses either by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution. Often the right groups experience discrimination and are forced to choose their identity either as male or female as the primary gender as per the global standards.

Transgender People Who Have Been Breaking Barriers Across Fields

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

She was assigned male right from the time of her birth and is considered as one of the most influential transgender people. Recognized as a Bharatanatyam professional dancer and an activist based in Mumbai city. Comparing the other parents who usually refuse to accept their children when they recognize themselves as transgenders. Tripathi’s parents came forward and accepted her passionately when she came out being transgender. She is the first transgender to have represented Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008 wherein she worked with various NGOs before she initiated her organization, ‘Astitva’ in 2007 that caters to the needs of sexual minorities. Tripathi had been featured in different reality TV shows as a special guest and never missed an opportunity that addresses the relevant LGBTQ community.

Dr. Manabi Bandopadhyay

She has been recognized as India’s first transgender college principal. She was born being the only son among the other two sisters. However, she was suppressed by her conservation father and found a tough battle struggling to search for her real identity. She is West Bengal’s first transgender to have attained a Ph.D. and became a lecturer. Later, she initiated Oh-Manab in 1995, which is a magazine aimed at recognizing the hijra community. She behaved in good spirits to not let education be deterred by society’s ridicule and knew it is education that acts as a weapon to address all existing stereotypes.

Sathyasri Sharmila

She registered herself as Tamil Nadu’s first transgender lawyer in 2018. After completing her law degree in 2007 after waiting for a decade to help her community address the atrocities faced for years. She had been working being as transgender activist for a long and is identified as few people in our country to be registered as a lawyer.

Regrettably, the year 2021 has witnessed at least 29 transgender or gender non-confronting individuals who were fatally shot and killed by extreme measures including that of violence. A total of 44 fatalities have been marked by HRC, declaring 2020 as the most violent year on record since HRC began tracking such crimes from 2013. The victims are similar to any of us, caring partners, parents, family members, friends, and community members who work, go to school, and attend places of worship. They are real people, who didn’t deserve the treatment that they are subjected to. [3]

[1]What Does India’s Transgender Community Want?, Tapasya, ( January 9 2020), THE DIPLOMAT, https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/what-does-indias-transgender-community-want/.

[2] The Peculiar Position of India’s Third Gender, Jeffrey Gettleman, ( February 17 2018), The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/style/india-third-gender-hijras-transgender.html.

[3] Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2021, Human Rights Campaign, https://www.hrc.org/resources/fatal-violence-against-the-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2021.


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