Sex does not create any identity, it’s just a label. Although we are branches of the same trees having the same roots, it has been a pervasive perception of viewing transgenders as abnormal, unequal, and giving them a standard of low status in our society since time immemorial. If as humans we can evolve from the traditional fight of blacks and whites, then it’s time to accept transgenders with equal rights which persists and are guaranteed by virtue of our democratic constitution including education, occupation, residence, healthcare, sanitation, etc. on the basis of them being human which can neither be created nor can be abrogated by any government. The transgender community in our country is divergent, majorly known communities include the hijras, kinnars, kothis, aravanis, eunurch, jogtis, shiva, shakthis, etc.
They face fundamental instability and dissatisfaction with the biological sex with which they are born resulting into serious anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other symptoms. This dysphoria often acts as a catalyst to change one’s body language and gender expressions, in order to be more in keeping up with what is felt to be one’s gender identity. Hence hiding their feelings and behaving according to the regularity as per the society standards. The main problem of growing up with gender Dysphoria, aside from the body dysphoria itself is the social dilemma. Essentially everyone expects the individual to be and act like a boy/girl, when they feel inside to be a girl/boy.
Acceptance of transgenders is uncommon which makes them lead a life full of grave hardships and sufferings. The lifestyle that is easily lived and enjoyed by a common man is made next to impossible for them to experience. They find it a difficult task facing basic social requirements such as healthy parental and family relationships, fear of being incapable of finding an appropriate partner, unemployment and the list goes on. Due to these unfulfilled needs, they are deliberately exposed to beggary, violence and prejudice on account of earning their bread and butter. This discrimination that they face is a set- back as their not accepted and recognised as third genders in our society. This altogether leads to a greater compromise on their health and safety. Owing to which they tend to suffer from frustration and depression which very often leads to suicidal deaths. Nowhere to go to earn their livelihood they are forced to practice prostitution which exposes them to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Hence this practice steadily becomes a part of their living. From the human rights perspective, the central concern about these communities pertain to the mental trauma that is inflicted on them.
The parliament introduced in the Lok Sabha, the Transgender persons (protection of rights) Bill, 2016, aiming to protect their fundamental rights by prohibiting discrimination. It further provides measures as under-
a) Zestful recognition of their identity.
b) Provisions are made to foster their education, social security, health and safety.
c) Provisions are made to set up a national council, which would in turn set up Commissions that would undertake the work of inquiring and at the same time making recommendations to safeguard their rights and fulfilling the inconsistencies in the application of the law.
d) The Bill also ensures to take appropriate steps to formulate schemes for vocational training and self-employment.
e) It also provides measures for implementation of Sero-surveillance centres for the common diseases they are exposed to.
f) The most significant measure is made to regulate the offences towards them and charge penalties thereunder.
Further it guarantees OBC status to them even though they are not born as SC or ST, and entitles them to reservation under the respective categories. While laying importance, and Concentrating on educating their parents, the bill further focuses on their dwellings by setting up rehabilitation centres and undertaking welfare programmes for them. It also supports and facilitates their employment by providing them loans. Lastly efforts are made to ensure they have access to a cultural life, leisure and recreational activities.
The Supreme Court has at many instances given directions for the protection of their rights by including of a third category in documents like the election card, passport, driving license and ration card, and for admission in educational institutions, hospitals, amongst others. Recognizing diverse gender identities, the Court has busted the dual gender structure
Further, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 which was amended in 1986 has become a gender-neutral legislation. The domain of the Act now applies to both male and female sex workers along with those whose gender identity was indeterminate, both male and hijra sex workers became criminal subjects as there is a legal base to arrest the transgender sex workers.
Some famous transgenders who were able to reach a benchmark inspite of facing issues include,
i. Manabi Bandyopadhyay who became India's first transgender principal, taking over administrative changes in her college at Krishnanagar, West Bengal.
ii. Padmini Prakash who is first transgender TV anchor with a prime time show on a South Indian TV channel.
iii. Kalki Subramaniam our first transgender entrepreneur is a successful journalist, writer, actor and activist.
Let’s all join to create public awareness in order to develop the feeling of belonging among transgenders as they are a part of our society and culture. Its high time that we have treated them as inhuman characters, and tackled their problems of fear, gender dysphoria, shame, depression in the most insignificant manner. With the unease and dissatisfaction of their biological identity, we are invariably facing a significant loss of our human resource and manpower which can be positively used for the development of our nation. 24th April is celebrated as Transgender day, in India as a mark of respect by parliament in account of the introduction of the bill. Only if we change our mindset, we can bring about social, educational and economic revolution empowering equal rights to their community.