India: Rollback Transgender Persons Bill

What do you do with a bill that claims it is going to protect transgender persons, but has no word on how members of the marginalised community are going to get employment? What if in addition to being silent on jobs, the bill goes on to criminalise the only means of livelihood for a majority of the community – begging? This is not hypothetical – this is exactly what is happening with the centre’s draft legislation, ironically named the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.

And the transgender community across the country is angry, because despite them telling the government and a standing committee that the bill does nothing for them, and will in fact take away the rights that the 2014 NALSA judgment by the Supreme Court guarantees the community – the central government has done nothing.

Members of the trans community are planning protests across the country to denounce the bill in its current form and demand a rollback, and on Thursday, activists in Karnataka staged a demonstration at Mysore Bank circle. Organised by the Karnataka Transgender Samithi (KTS), the agitators demanded that the central government rollback the bill immediately.

“There are no reservation in government jobs. What do we do with the bill then? How will we develop? We have been fighting for these basic right for years,” Sowmya, a member of the KTS told TNM.

Speaking about the lacunas in the current bill, “The Bill disregards many progressive reforms of NALSA judgement. NALSA judgement had medical insurance outlined for transgender persons,” Christy Raj, another member of KTS said.

At a press conference ahead of the protests, the collective called the bill draconian and violative, and demanded that the bill be immediately rolled back as it is in contravention of the NALSA judgement. Primarily they objected to the unclear definition of transgender persons.

The bill defines transgender person as “neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female or male; or neither female nor male.” This definition has been criticised by trans activists across the country, who say that the government is trying to impose their fantasy of who a transgender person is on the community. Read more via News Minute