Published: 27th December 2018
Five reasons why the LGBTQIA+ community finds the Transgender Bill 2018 offensive and undemocratic
The bill also criminalises begging and "whoever compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging"
The Lok Sabha passed the Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Bill on December 17, 2018, and it was a watershed moment in the legislative history of India, ostensibly being the first bill cleared in the Lok Sabha that seeks to provide protection to the transgender community in the country.
Although some people from the transgender community are saying that the Bill has taken a progressive stand as to the definition of the word transgender, most of them disagree. There are other features in the Bill as well that has led to widespread outrage and protests. We spoke to Grace Banu, a Dalit transgender activist, to understand the 'most offensive' features in this Bill.
#1 Getting an ID entails getting 'inspected'
If a transperson wants to avail an identity certificate, he or she has to go through an extremely tedious process. The multi-step process involves; first, an application being moved in the office of the District Magistrate. Then the application will be sent to the screening committee, following which the screening committee would review the application (and in all likelihood the applicant) and then would lay down its recommendation back to the District Magistrate. Following which the District Magistrate would then issue an identity certificate. "Why would we want to showcase our body to someone unknown? That is completely ridiculous and it is a blatant violation of human rights," says Grace.
#2 No more 'feeling' trans. You've got to get surgery
The bill states that those people belonging to the trans community and who wish to identify as either a man or a woman will need to go through gender affirmation surgery, also known as sex reassignment surgery, or SRS. "The government cannot decide for us. It is for us to decide if we want to go through a reassignment surgery. The bill is regressive and anti-transgender," adds Grace.
#3 Begging, prostitution can get you thrown in the slammer
The bill also criminalises begging and "whoever compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging." India does not have any law that criminalises begging in the entire country. "If you are stopping us from begging and working as sex-workers, give us an alternative solution to sustain ourselves. I feel that the bill was drafted hastily, without keeping in mind or understanding the reality of gender identity and expression," Grace explains.
#4 If your family don't want you, you've gotta get admitted
The bill further states that when a parent or immediate family member is "unable to take care of a transgender," the transgender person should be sent to a rehabilitation centre. Grace says that this is the most dangerous provision of the bill as these trans people leave their home as they have to face violence or discrimination and now the government is asking them to leave and be sent to rehabilitation centres where they might have to face similar abuse.
#5 We don't talk anymore about schooling or jobs
There is no provision which talks about transgenders being educated or getting employment or any kind of reservation rather it wants to restrict them from doing things. Grace says that over generations, trans people have been deprived of their basic rights and the government did nothing to empower them, and now with this bill, they are only making things worse.