Last month, Caritas India, the social development arm of Catholic churches in India launched an outreach programme for the assistance and promotion of transgender people in India. The announcement talked about the inclusion of natural transgenders by also opening up job opportunities for them.

The move comes in the backdrop of Pope Francis’ comments earlier this year in which he said that people from the LGBT community deserve pastoral love and care. 

b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’

“Caritas is open to work with transgender people. I am even open to recruiting them,” Fr Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India said, reports Vatican Radio. “It is the first time ever in India such an announcement was made by a Church organisation in which people from the third gender were invited to apply for jobs,” Amrit Sangma, Spokesperson, Caritas India told ScoopWhoop News.

However, not all transgenders would be able to apply for the programme as only transgenders by birth would be eligible.

“We have an opinion on those who undergo sex change, we are not in favour of that. We believe that the natural gender one is born with is what he/she is supposed to cherish and contribute to creation,” D’Souza clarified in the report.

b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’

The programme which  aims to remove biases against the transgender community and to acknowledge their importance in the society, itself is laced with prejudices representatives of the transgender community feel. 

Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a prominent transgender activist who studies Public Policy at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, said the move is highly problematic.

“The fact that the programme excludes those who have undergone sex change surgeries is completely regressive,” Mogli told ScoopWhoop News, adding that a religious body does not have the right over a human being’s body.       

b’A file photo of Pope Francis | Source: AFP’

“Religious texts and scriptures have been modified by people to suit their own line of thoughts,” she said. Mogli, however, maintained that she does not entirely rubbish the initiative because she felt it’s a move in the right direction.

Upon being asked whether church organisations have organised such moves in the past, she replied that it has been marginal. “There are small prayer groups across the country where people from the transgender community are accepted. But I can’t recall any organised initiative by  Church groups,” she said.  

Akkai Padmashali, another transgender activist based in Bengaluru echoed similar sentiments and called the move ‘transphobic’. “It is the clear lack of awareness on the part of church authorities that people who had gone sex change surgery are being excluded. The amount of psychological torture that transgenders go through is difficult to explain. The society has to understand what the issues really are,” she told ScoopWhoop News.

b’A representational image | Source: PTI’

She also termed the move is too late in comparison to all the progressive developments happening across the world. Slamming the church on its half-baked stand to only include transgenders by birth, she questioned, “Who decides what is natural and what is not? Diversity has to be accepted and respected.”

“Religious leaders across platforms should invite people from the transgender community and must organise awareness programmes for the better understanding of our issues,” she added. 

(Feature image source: PTI)