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FROM MARGINALIZATION TO EMPOWERMENT: THE JOURNEY OF TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION

Transgender is a term that includes all people with a gender identity, or gender expression, or who have etiquettes that are not alike to what’s normally or usually related to the sex that they had at birth. Sex is given to one after birth and points to their biological standing in the form of male or female[1]. It’s usually tied to physical characteristics, Gender points towards the roles that are created socially, which includes such actions, tasks, and characteristics that are believed by society to be adequate for boys or men and girls or women. They impact how people act, interact, and feel about their selves. Transgender[2] is a very wide term and it includes persons for whom their expression of gender, identity, or etiquette is different from what is to be normally expected from their sex. This includes male transgenders, female transgenders, and identity from male to female (MTF) and identity from female to male (FTM).

People whom Cross-dress, people who are genderqueer, and transsexuals fall under this as well.  Colourful individualities to ambisexual lives in India like the Hijras, Aravanis, Kothis, Jogtas or Jogappas, and Shiv Sakthis.

DISCRIMINATION FACED BY TRANSGENDERS

Transgender persons faced discrimination at almost every point of their existence. According to the National Centre for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a report titled Unfairness at Every phase constantly was released in 2011. The survey discovered that high levels of discrimination are faced by transgender persons in work, housing, health care, education, judicial institutions, and surprisingly even within their own families, based on an illustration of over 6,500 transgender people. Discrimination can cause severe psychological stress, leaving transgender people wondering if they were prejudiced against, which was caused by their gender identity or expression, another social identity, or a combination of all of these.

The state policy of India was the one that initially accepted and identified only two sexual orientations, which were male (for men) and female (for women), is also the one excluded the third gender of different important rights as Indian citizens, consisting of the rights given in the Indian constitution, i.e., voting, owning a property, marrying, claiming a formal identity via a passport, etc., and their right to being educated, being employed, being healthy, etc. The rights that were not given to them were of articles 14, 15, 16 and 21[3].

RIGHTS UNDER THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

transgender people recognized their rights for the first time in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgement in the year 2014[4], in which the Supreme Court emphasised defending and maintaining the rights of transgender people within the idea or assumptions of the Indian Constitution outlined in Articles 14, 15, 16, and 21[5].

RIGHTS THAT ARE VIOLATED BUT NEEDED TO BE RESTORED

Education: As education is an important factor for males and females, it is equally imp for the third gender people but due to the disgrace shown by the society towards them, they feel avoided and ignored in the field of education. Due to this, they are even denied from taking admission to educational institutions as the institution or organization does not recognize their gender identity. The transgender person (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 [6]states every school, college and other institution supported by the government must compulsorily provide education, sports and recreational facilities to transgenders fairly and cordially.

Employment: In the field of employment also, transgenders have tolerated discrimination in the place of employment or workplace. Transgenders result in unemployment and poverty when there is unfairness which appears due to invasion of privacy, rejection from hiring and molestation. According to the transgender person protection act, transgenders cannot be treated unfairly or discriminated against in any government or private establishments. This also states there must be a person in every such establishment who is nominated or appointed as a complaint officer to serve the issues relating to the act[7].

Health care: Transgender health care services encompass not just the medical treatments associated with the process of transition, but also the whole state of full physical, mental, and social well-being.[8] For numerous years, people who are transgender are the ones facing serious health complications and barriers to necessary services of health care services, which ultimately result in financial insecurity, attempts to suicide, violent behaviour and harassing activities, and even STDs. As per the Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019, the authorities ought to take major steps for the people who are transgender that are related to provisions of health care, like different surveillance branches for HIV and reassignment of sex or surgeries to transfer sex, and these individuals should be provided with medical insurance.

RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER BILL 2014

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha on December 12, 2014, and was unanimously passed on April 24, 2015, with cross-party support. Tiruchi Siva, a Tamil Nadu MP, introduced this private member’s bill. The 24th of April is observed as Transgender Day as the bill got the approval in Rajya Sabha on this day. The approved Bill primarily included basic, essential and fundamental rights, i.e. the right to equality and non-discrimination, life and personal liberty, free expression, the ability to live in a community, and integrity, as well as protection from torture, cruelty, abuse, violence, and exploitation. There is a special provision for transsexual youngsters.[9]

The approved Bill also addresses the right of acquiring education, the right to engage in employment, the right to have social security, and the right to maintain or take care of health. In India, the Transgender Bill gave legal recognition and protection to transgender people. It gave them the right to self-identification as well as protection against discrimination. It also included provisions for educational and job reservations. Despite legislative protections, transgender people in India continue to experience discrimination and violence.[10]

JOURNEY OF TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS FROM MARGINALISATION TO EMPOWERMENT – INSPIRING STORIES AND EXAMPLES

Despite the obstacles, many transgender people in India have taken ownership of their life and are working towards empowerment. Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist who adopted a kid and campaigned for her rights, is one such amazing story. Another example is Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender activist who established the Sahodari Foundation to support and resource transgendered people.[11]

CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS

The path of transgender people in India from marginalization to empowerment is a difficult but necessary step toward creating a more inclusive and fair society have been taken. Recognizing transgender rights, challenging societal norms and biases, and enacting supporting policies and programs are critical to changing marginalization into empowerment. To build a safe, tolerant, and inclusive environment for transgender people, government agencies, civil society organizations, communities, and individuals must work together.

Several critical initiatives can be made to empower transgender people in India:

Legislative Reforms: Enact and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to safeguard transgender rights, promote equal opportunities in school, employment, healthcare, and housing, and create a legal framework for gender recognition and gender-affirming healthcare.

Access to Healthcare: Provide transgender-friendly healthcare services, such as gender-affirming therapies, counselling, and mental health assistance. Healthcare personnel should be trained to deliver compassionate and non-discriminatory treatment.

Job Chances: Encourage businesses and organizations to embrace inclusive policies and give transgender people equitable job chances. Create skill-development programs and vocational training efforts to increase their employability.

Social Support and Community Building: Create support networks, helplines, and safe spaces for transgender people to connect, share their stories, and have access to services. Encourage community-building activities to strengthen bonds and empower transgender people.[12]

Advocating for the accurate and positive depiction of transgender people in media, entertainment, and advertising to challenge misconceptions, improve visibility, and promote inclusion.

Capacity Building and Leadership Development: Give transgender people the opportunity to learn new skills, participate in decision-making, and become community leaders. Encourage entrepreneurial and economic empowerment programs.

Collaboration and Partnerships: Encourage collaboration among government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), transgender organizations, and other stakeholders to exchange resources, information, and expertise and to work together toward the empowerment of transgender people.

Author(s) Name: Sahi (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies)

References:

[1] Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, ‘Transgender persons’ <https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/transgender.htm#:~:text=Transgender%20is%20an%20umbrella%20term,with%20which%20a%20person%20identifies > accessed 9 June 2023

[2] American Psychological Association, ‘Understanding Transgender People, Gender Identity And Gender Expression’ <https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbtq/transgender-people-gender-identity-gender-expression > accessed 9 June 2023

[3] Constitution of India 1950, art 14,15,16 and 21

[4] National Legal Services Authority v Union of India [2014] SCC 438

[5] Constitution of India 1950, art 14,15,16 and 21

[6] Prs Legislative Research, ‘The transgender persons (Protection of rights) Bill 2019’

<https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-transgender-persons-protection-of-rights-bill-2019 > accessed 9 June 2023

[7] SHRM, ‘Employing transgender workers’ < https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/employingtransgenderworkers.aspx> accessed 7 June 2023

[8] National Library Of Medicine, ‘The State Of Transgender Health Care: Policy, Law And Medical Framework’ < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3953767/> accessed 7 June 2023

[9] Human Rights Watch, ‘India: Transgender Bill Raises Rights Concerns’ <https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/23/india-transgender-bill-raises-rights-concerns > accessed 8 June 2023

[10] The right of transgender persons bill 2014, s 13, s 16, s17, s 1

[11] Your story, ‘The Year That Was: Inspirational Stories From Transgender Community’ <https://yourstory.com/2017/12/transgender-heroes-and-heroines-of-2017> accessed 9 June 2023

[12] Prs Legislative Research, ‘The transgender persons (Protection of rights) Bill 2019’

<https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-transgender-persons-protection-of-rights-bill-2019 > accessed 9 June 2023