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

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Where the Transgender Bill Fails

Affirmative action is urgently required to safeguard the rights of the transgender community.


Recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted the first-ever nationwide survey of the transgender community in India and found that 92% of the people belonging to the community are subjected to economic exclusion. It is profoundly absurd that we think of ourselves as inhabiting a “modern” world, and yet there exists a sizeable community of people who are structurally ostracised and denied the fundamental right to a livelihood. Often, they have to either resort to—or are forced into—begging or sex work since they remain socially circumscribed from other forms of employment. The primary crisis faced by the transgender community is a denial of sexual citizenship. According to the NHRC data, 99% of the transgender community in India have faced social rejection. Transgender persons cannot inhabit public spaces and command the same respect that a heterosexual cis-man would receive from his fellow citizens because their bodies themselves are stigmatised presences. The transgender community occupies a very specific intersection among marginalised communities that makes them uniquely vulnerable to sexual violence and medical neglect. Largely, they are estranged from their families, which removes them from one of the most primary forms of social legitimacy. As per the NHRC survey, only 2% of transgender persons in India live with their families.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2014 was an attempt to correct this, and provide the transgender community with opportunities. The bill, which was being debated in Parliament in August, has gone through several revisions. However, as it stands now, the bill has neglected to incorporate two crucial recommendations made by a standing committee to review its provisions in 2017. The first recommendation made a case for reservation for transgender persons in educational institutions and for jobs. This sort of affirmative action can ensure that the problem of economic exclusion is addressed.

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Updated On : 6th Sep, 2018
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