Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill, 2019

On 5th August, 2019,the Lok Sabha passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill.

Aim

  • It seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgender.
  • It aims at empowering the community by defining and protecting their rights, which is one of the priorities of the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry in the first 100 days agenda of the second term of the current government.

Salient Features of the Bill

  • Defining the Term Transgender: A transgender is a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-woman (whether or not such person has undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with inter-sex variations, gender-queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as ‘kinner’, ‘hijra’, ‘aravani’ and ‘jogta’.
  • Right to Choose Identity: A person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy. It requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and district screening committee to get certified as a trans person and a revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
  • Prohibition against Discrimination:The bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. It directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes in these areas.
  • National Council for Transgender persons (NCT): It provides for the establishment of NCT with Union Minister for Social Justice as its Chairperson. The Council will advise the central government as well as monitor the impact of policies, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons. It will also redress the grievances of transgender persons.

Key Changes Made

  • The 2018 Bill was resisted for outlawing begging, which made the trans community particularly vulnerable; this is because most of the trans population in India are compelled to take up begging owing to the lack of employment opportunities available to them.
  • This provision has been removed from the Bill, which now specifies the following offences:
    • compelling transgender persons to do forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes)
    • denial of use of a public place
    • removal from household, village or other place of residence
    • physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.

Impact of the Bill

  • Will Promote Inclusiveness: The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalized section and bring them into the mainstream of society. This will lead to inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
  • Will Make Government Accountable: It will bring greater accountability on the part of the Central Government and State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for issues concerning Transgender persons. Also, it will make all the stakeholders also responsive and accountable for upholding the principles underlying the bill.

Challenges faced by Transgender

Social Exclusion and Discrimination:
  • Transgenders are often ousted by their own biological family or run away at an early age due to harassment. They are looked down by the society as a social misfitwith serious problems. Community humiliates the family for having a transgender child thereby preventing the social contact of the families with the community.
  • Gender identity often makes transgender a victim of stigmatization and exclusion by the society.
Illiteracy:
  • These are unable to access equal educational opportunities because of harassment, discrimination and even violence. They are forced to drop out of schools as Indian schools remain unequipped to handle children with alternative sexual identities
Poverty and Unemployment:
  • They end up begging on roads as they lack educational qualificationsand are unable to get jobs most often. Even if they are qualified, the job market is not ready to employ them due to the stigma attached with them.
  • The community is also forced into sex work. The one reason for being forced into sex work is because unavailability of livelihood resources. As a result of this they are pushed to lead their life in poverty or end up taking refuge in beggary and sex work.
Prone to Violence:
  • They are subjected to violence and mistreatment. These people, particularly transgender women face staggering levels of violence, high rates of murder and incarceration.
Health Issues:
  • Discrimination in India’s healthcare system against transgender people remains widespread even though the new laws introduced earlier this year directed at providing them equal treatment. Anxiety due to the fear of being treated unfairly, worries about abuse and administrative hurdles are hindering many of the country’s millions transgender people from seeking medical care.
  • Medical professionals themselves are responsible for causing "transphobia" to many; they remain largely unaware about gender identity issues.
  • According to India’s National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), sex work makes this community a high-risk group for HIV.

Way Forward

  • Central as well as state governments both have adopted various measures from time to time which have helped to bring them on an equal footing with others. However, the need is to reorient the outlook of the society; no laws or measures adopted by the government can be effectively implemented until and unless the mindset is not changed and people are not willing to accept them as a part of the society.
  • The government should take steps for better education and employment of transgender which is important to ensure social justice to the community because every individual in this country has equal rights and privileges guaranteed by the constitution of India.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, 5th August, 2019