Lok Sabha passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, this Monday and Trans rights activists have out-rightly dismissed the regressive bill.
It was passed with 27 amendments, introduced by the government. However, the community claims that the said bill doesn't protect but rather violates the rights of the members. According to SCMP, Anindya Hajra, a transgender woman and activist at Pratyay Gender Trust, says,
"[The bill] … reinforces and deepens the apartheid that exists in this country against trans persons...The bill is violative, it is not protection. We reject the bill in its present form."
Here's what you need to know about the Bill.
1. The definition of transgender was changed to one “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta”.
Bittu K, a transgender rights activist says that apart from the definition and other minor changes the Bill is similar to what was passed in 2016.
Fundamental questions of criminalisation of trans people, violation of our fundamental rights, lighter punishments for the assault upon trans people compared to cisgender people, the complete lack of reservation provisions have not been addressed.— Bittu K (@BittuKarthikK) December 17, 2018
None of the suggestions given by the opposition were taken into account by the Lok Sabha. Grace Banu, a trans activist from Tamil Nadu and the founder of the Trans Rights Now Collective, took to Facebook to say,
“It is a black day for us...We had conveyed our recommendations to the government. They did not even care for the suggestions made by [members of Parliament] Shashi Tharoor and Supriya Sule.”
2. Sex crimes against the community would land the accused in jail for six months to two years which as the activists claim is a much lighter punishment as opposed to the punishment given to similar offences against women.
3. The bill proposes that the transgender person has to produce a certificate of identity from the District Magistrate.
This will leave trans individuals susceptible to abuse and exploitation. According to SCMP, Meera Sanghamitra, a transgender and activist says that the bill would increase problems for the community by taking away the right to self-determine one's own gender-
“What is between my two legs does not determine my gender. My gender is my experience, my gender is my identity, my gender is my decision and my exclusive decision – and this is not being recognised by this country’s parliament."
For a person to identify as transgender, they have to go through a district screening committee. A bunch of people will have the power to tell someone if they are trans or not. #StopTransBill2018— #StopTransBill2018 #StopTraffickingBill (@shreyilaanasuya) December 19, 2018
4. Another problematic point entails that anyone who 'compels or entices a transgender person' to beg is prone to face jail time of up to two years.
This could be misused to jail and exploit trans community itself. According to Scroll, Tripti Tandon of the Lawyers’ Collective said that there are two perspectives to this.
"One is that there is no alternative for Transgender persons do not have an alternative livelihood so most of them beg or engage in sex work...Another perspective is that this is a traditional cultural practice which they are entitled to preserve.”
The trans bill is silent on livelihood schemes for trans folks but criminalises begging. This will directly affect already vulnerable Hijra communities. And you say the bill is for us? #StopTransBill2018— Sampoorna (@SampoornaIndia) December 19, 2018
5. There is no mention of proper healthcare or reservation for the Transgender community.
Shashi Tharoor tweeted a few of the amendments he moved, which were not taken into account. Some of them included- 'to make school & college curricula inclusive in nature', 'to include transgender persons under the ambit of the IPC', to forbid 'subjecting transgender persons to a physical examination & ensure all transgender persons are protected against discrimination'.
4/8 I also moved an amendment to mandate the Govt to encourage transgender children to access all levels of education through scholarships and to provide incentives to the private sector to employ transgender persons, to combat their marginalization.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 17, 2018
Twitter is enraged over the bill, urging the Parliament to #StopTransBill2018.
When #Sec377 was being opposed, trans and GNC communities stood with you. Cis queer people, I am talking to you now. Stand with trans people. Show up in equal numbers like they did for you. Make sure you help #StopTransBill2018.— #StopTransBill2018 #StopTraffickingBill (@shreyilaanasuya) December 19, 2018
We don't want this transgender bill2018 .its criminalising trans community .central govt withdraw this bill.#Withdrawtransbill2018 @supriya_sule @republic @TamilTheHindu @MSJEGOI @MirrorNow @povmumbai @transrightsnow pic.twitter.com/d0BxzODhZn— GRACE BANU (@thirunangai) December 18, 2018
The regressive Bill has sparked outrage culminating into a protest held today in Bengaluru.
Bengaluru:Transgenders hold protest over passing of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill in Lok Sabha. Protestors say, "The community wasn't consulted. Bill doesn't consider reservations in jobs & education, most of us are forced to beg & the bill criminalises begging" pic.twitter.com/KZOy1JAeV7— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2018