“Turning point in transgender rights”

Transgender activists in Tamil Nadu on Friday hailed DMK MP Tiruchi Siva’s role in getting his private member's bill on the rights of transgenders passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Terming it a progressive move, Living Smile Vidya, theatre activist campaigning for transgender rights, said reservation in education and employment would be a turning point in transgender rights. “If you look at the history of marginalised groups in India, whether it is women or Dalits, it is reservation in these areas that has made a real difference,” she said.

The passing of the bill – coming about a year after a Supreme Court ruling recognised transgender persons as the “third category” – is reassuring and timely, according to activists.

R. Jeeva, founder of Transgender Rights Association, said: “It is a welcome move, but everything depends on how the State government and the Centre respond. The Tamil Nadu government is yet to implement recommendations of the Supreme Court judgment to promote transgender rights.”

Ms. Jeeva was referring to the April 2014 verdict that recognised the transgender community as a third gender along with male and female, and also urged the Central and State governments to take steps to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes, and to implement reservation in educational institutions and for public appointments.

Government role

Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender rights activist, said the bill would help in ensuring that the recommendations of the Supreme Court were implemented. “The government has a big role in addressing issues of this invisible community.” The development followed a recent RBI directive urging banks to include “third gender” in all banks. “It will give the community easier access to banking services and loans.”

While the changes were welcome, it is important to be inclusive and sensitive to all groups among transgender persons, Ms. Vidya said.

Pointing to a nuanced difference between “transwomen” and “transmen” categories, she emphasised the need for legislative and social changes recognise include both categories. “It is also time we do away with this “third gender” tag. Why do we need the hierarchy? We have to be identified as men or women depending on our choice.”

Activists say the passing of the bill is reassuring and timely

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 4:01:26 PM |

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