Since 2016, we, the trans community, have been continuously protesting, writing and talking about problems in the Transgender Protection Bill. Despite multiple revisions, each version has failed to address the many problems faced by the trans community. The Transgender Protection Bill 2019 in itself is a violation of human rights on several grounds.
For starters, it violates the self-determination of identity. This bill has removed the words “screening committee”, but I must go through surgery to be issued an identity card as a man/male. If I am not able to go through surgery or if I don’t want to do surgery, then I will get a transgender certificate. This increases complications.
First, we have to receive a transgender certificate and then by showing a medical certificate of surgery, we will able to get a man/male certificate. It’s an attack on the self-determination of identity. In the previous bill, a screening committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official and a transgender person who decides one’s gender identity. Now, in this bill, nothing has changed – the medical certificate will decide one’s gender identity. Removing the words “screening committee” doesn’t change anything when this process is in place.
Despite multiple revisions, each version has failed to address the many problems faced by the trans community.
This Bill doesn’t talk about reservations, which is of utmost importance for a transgender person to get an opportunity in employment and education. In the name change process, the bill specifically states that only the first name can be changed. Is this due to the caste system or something else? Generally, anyone can change their last name. Further, women’s surnames will change after their marriage, in certificate and document without their consent. But, a trans person cannot change their last name. It is highly possible that due to violence faced by the family, a trans person chooses not to have their father’s name and surname as a part of their identity.
The Bill talks about rehabilitation centers. If blood relations or family don’t want to be with their children, then that person will be sent to the rehabilitation center. This also attacks the Gharana system and chosen family, which most transgender people prefer to stay with. What rehabilitation will this center do? I don’t want to be rehabilitated or rescued and what rescue or rehabilitation will the government do with trans persons mostly with gender non-conforming children?
This bill has ignored the voices of the trans community, who have been raising concerns for the last four years.
The Bill mentions lesser punishment for a crime against a transgender person. If a cis woman is raped by someone then that person will get a 7-year punishment but if someone rapes me – due to my being a trans man, then that perpetrator will get a 2-year punishment. Just because I am a transgender person. I think these parliamentarians think that a transgender person feels less pain or harm than a cis-gendered person.
This Bill talks about nominations for the National Council of Transgender Persons. It says that 5 nominated members will be on board, and they will be from different regions. No democratic process has been mentioned for nominations. A nominated member can be in control of the government which allows for no opposition or dissent for any decision.
This bill has ignored the voices of the trans community, who have been raising concerns for the last four years. While Parliamentarians use the word ‘Ubailingi’, which literally means a person who is of both sexes and take the stance of being ‘merciful’, they have forgotten about our rights and have completely overlooked the trans communities voices and recommendations.
Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: Human Rights Watch