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The Rajya Sabha Passed The Controversial Transgender Persons Bill And There’s So Much Wrong With It

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What happens when a governing body consisting of only men is tasked with laying down abortion laws in a country? We get El Salvador and it’s inhumanely strict abortion laws. Similarly, what happens when a bill for protective rights of Transgender people is laid down by a committee that has never personally had to go through the struggles of being one in the country? We get the absolutely humiliating and regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights Bill), 2019, that was passed just today. The Bill aims at providing housing, education, justice and other human rights for the transgender community. The bill has been strongly opposed by members of the transgender community and other influencers hoping to impact positive change, mainly because no one knows the problems this community faces and the changes offered at this point, seem superficial.

What Does The Transgender (Protection of Rights Bill) 2019 Talk About?

One of the biggest critiques of the bill has been that while it hopes to protect members of the transgender community, the way to do it is humiliating and can easily become the reason they face further abuse. A clause in the Bill demands that transgender people ‘prove’ their status of being one in front of a committee. Grace Banu, a trans activist from Tamil Nadu pointed out, “If we want to get a trans ID, we will have to approach a District Magistrate, which is full of cisgender people,” This sentiment was further elaborated on by Mridul, a transman, activist and member of LABIA, a queer feminist collective, “How can someone from outside the community recognise our gender? My birth documents had ‘F’ on them but I want them to be changed to ‘M’ because I am a man,” he said. “But according to this Bill, I can’t get that done unless I have had [sex reassignment] surgery. Then someone else will determine whether I can be a man.”

The right to self-identify oneself as transgender is non-negotiable. It is laughable that the centre would suggest otherwise, they have never had to deal with an identity crisis. How will they know?

A lot of noted politicians have voiced their concerns about the superficial treatment the bill has been given. For such a sensitive issue of gender rights, there needs to be an iron-clad system built to afford the least space for misuse. DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, who has been instrumental in introducing the bill and Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan have expressed in passionate words, logical points of amendments the bill is supposed to go through. One of the biggest changes demanded by the community was the punishments clause. According to the bill, sexual abuse committed on a transgender is punishable by 6 months to 2 years, as opposed to the minimum 7 years in other cases. The bill also glazes over what constitutes a sexual offence, making it further medically intrusive for transgender people to report one. Since when is it okay to look over important technicalities in a law-making bill? Did they not have the time or just ran out of paper?!

The Superficial And Incomplete Bill

We are also shocked by the fact that the Rajya Sabha will pass a so-called “human rights” bill with specs that completely negate its purpose. Customised bills are passed in the house to recognise and afford equal opportunities to minorities, which the transgender community is. The bill does not say anything about reservation in education and employment for members of this community.

Another clause that has been opposed by the community is how transgender minors are treated. Statistically, the earliest forms of abuse suffered by transgender children are at the hands of members of the family. As such, it is crucial that there is a system in place to provide them with asylum and take them away from a toxic environment. But the bill enforces the right to residence of a minor to its natal family, which means, that victims of abuse can be held in contempt of law if they try to run away or ask for help.

There are also no mentions of equal marriage or adoption rights for the transgender community.

So What’s Next?

Even though the regressive bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha, members and supporters of the community have said they will keep the fight going. A big Twitter backlash has erupted that’s keeping the conversation alive and going.

Will it be enough to overturn this decision? Only time will tell.

Till then, let’s be part of the conversation and spread the word. Trans rights are human rights and we should all be fighting for it!

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