ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Forced to Live on the Margins

The proposed bill for transgender persons is insensitive and regressive.


In a move that has shocked and angered the transgender community and sexual minorities’ rights activists in India, the government has proposed introducing a bill in the forthcoming Parliament session that actually takes away the rights fought for and won by the trans, intersex, and gender variant persons’ community through struggles and litigation. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 flies in the face of recommendations made by a government-appointed expert committee in 2014, the Supreme Court’s judgment in 2015 and a private member’s bill unanimously passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2015, all of which displayed greater understanding of the needs of the transgender community. Worse, the government has rejected recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment’s 43rd report on the bill that criticised it for ignoring the demands of the trans, intersex, and gender variant citizens’ community.

Beginning with the very definition of the trans identity to the right to self-identify, to recognising that alternative family structures are needed by transgender persons when their own desert them, to reservations to help reverse their abysmal education and living standards and penalties to punish those who discriminate against them, the current bill is regressive. That one’s sexuality is central to human development and identity and to forming a sense of self is by now accepted. The idea that the “sex” of a person is biological while the “gender” is a social construct is not disputed. However, the bill takes none of this into consideration. It defines transgender persons in terms that would be laughable if it were not so regressive. It states: “‘transgender person’ means a person who is neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female or male; or neither female nor male; and whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at the time of birth, and includes trans men and trans women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.” The transgender community has suggested that they be defined as persons who are socially, legally, and medically categorised as being either male or female, but who assert that this is not their self-identity and/or expression. Transgender people may or may not be intersex and vice versa. The intersex are defined as those individuals who have atypical sex characteristics (anatomical, chromosomal, hormonal, etc) that do not conform to the social, legal, and medical categories of being either male or female.

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Updated On : 1st Dec, 2017
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