Transgender “Rights” Bill

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 is a law introduced by the Modi Govt in 2019 with the stated objective to provide for protection of rights of transgender people, their welfare, and other related matters. The act was introduced in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, on 19 July 2019 and was forced through despite opposition and protest from Civil Rights Groups and Transgender Community in India.

Protests against Transgender Law

Problem Areas

The requirement under a previous draft bill of undergoing a medical, psychological or physical screening for procuring a certificate of identity in line with international standards was removed in the Transgender Persons Act. This was seen as positive in some quarters since the vast majority of people do not get the opportunity of acquiring the GID certificates etc for reasons of cost or access.

Protests against Transgender Act

The definition of a ‘transgender person’, as provided under the Transgender Persons Act is deliberately ambiguous and misleading. While a transgender person is one who has a different gender identity than that assigned at birth, a ‘person with intersex variations’ is someone whose gender is based on biological characteristics. Though the difference is subtly brought through the two separate definitions, the definition of ‘transgender persons’ has been made too broad to include a ‘person with intersex variations’.

The Transgender Persons Act probably remains inadequate as it fails to provide for a skeleton on various other related rights, like marriage rights, adoption rights, maternity rights etc.

The Transgender Persons Act also leaves too many action items with the ‘appropriate government’ to act upon. How much priority will the government give to ensuring that all those obligations promised in the act are actually fulfilled in a timely manner? This leaves a transgender person at the mercy of the system for effective implementation of the benefits promised to them under the Transgender Persons Act.

For eg, if a Transgender Person does manage to file a case under this case for protection from being evicted, How does the Police or Judiciary act given the lack of rules regarding implementation.

Protests against Transgender Law

I had managed to get the GID certificates in 2018 as per the original guidelines after 2 years of therapy. After the first GID certificate, I began Hormone Therapy and after a year managed to get my second certificate in Feb 2019 – required for a Confirmation surgery according to old rules. The counsellor made me even undergo a mental acuity test among others before i got the second certificate but I did it! It was while I was in the middle of selecting a surgeon for my big surgery that this rotten bill was passed.

A major problem was that many people in the community were not aware of the scope of the new Transgender Act or how it worked exactly. The surgeon I had chosen in Bangalore asked me to wait for a year till there was more clarity on the rules. The medical stores which earlier issued Hormone Tablets/Injections on the prescription now wanted to see a “Transgender Card” which they said was the rule – It isnt! The Transgender Card is issued after applying to the Govt. Many Trans friends have reported problems with acquiring this mythical card so I never applied. I had to purchase my Hormones in the Black market for the next year. I finally got my surgery when I left India for good!

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