Transgender activists sore over passing of bill in RS

They say the poorly researched bill will be fought against in Supreme Court

Published - November 27, 2019 09:46 pm IST


Transgender activists across Tamil Nadu expressed disappointment and anger over passing of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill in the Rajya Sabha and said that the Bill, which was poorly researched, would be fought against in the Supreme Court.

Grace Banu, a Dalit transgender rights activist from Chennai, said the Bill, which rejected several recommendations made by the community members and a Parliamentary Screening Committee, and shot down a Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Tiruchi Siva, failed to allow transgenders to determine their identity.

Although it said ‘A person recognised as a transgender shall have a right to self-perceived gender identity’, it added that a measure would screen pre or non-operative and post-operative transgenders: the former would be allowed to use the legal title ‘transgender’ while the latter could determine their identity as ‘male’ or ‘female’ after screening.

Grace Banu said this process violated the NALSA judgement which stated that surgery, hormonal treatment, and any and all forms of medical intervention were not indicative of gender identity. “Why must a medical superintendent scrutinise my body in order for me to identify myself?,” she asked.

Intersex activist Gopi Shankar said those who drafted the Bill had loosely used terminologies and not made the distinction between intersex and transgender persons. “The legal needs of an intersex person is different from those of a transgender person. Intersex is a sexual characteristic. To put it under the umbrella notion of ‘transgender’ would be wrong,” he said.

Transgender activist Priya Babu from Madurai said she was hurt that the Bill used the word transgender children as gender determination below 18 would lead to transphobia among the child’s peers and family members, causing extensive isolation.

She added that allowing the district administration to take control of a gender non-conforming youth in case of rejection from the family would be a blunder. “When the district administration is making the call to send these children to rehabilitation homes, imagine the kind of humiliation and shame they would feel... Why are our rights and identities being dictated by cisgender individuals?” she asked.

Priya Babu said parents of the youth must either be provided counselling or transgenders must be allowed to determine where they could stay further.

Both Grace Banu and Priya Babu said the biggest drawback of the Bill was that reservation in education, housing and employment had not been determined.

“Now, we must trust in the Constitution to ensure that our voices are heard,” Grace Banu said.

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