This article details how society refuses to accept the lives of a transgender community as it conforms to only female and male genders. Transgenders in India have to face numerous challenges. Most transgenders are not even accepted by their families. Although equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, transgenders are discriminated against and demeaned daily. To prevent this prejudice, Lok Sabha initiated a bill that was subsequently passed as the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
Table of Contents
Establishment of the Transgender Act
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 was enacted to protect the rights of the transgender community and ensure their welfare.
This act was initiated by the Lok Sabha on July 19th, 2019 and passed on August 5th, 2019. Subsequently, the Rajya Sabha passed this Bill on November 26th, 2019.
As per Section 7 of the Transgender Act, if a transgender person who has already acquired the identification certificate undergoes a medical surgery intended for sex/gender change, they must file another application, along with the identification certificate, to the medical superintendent or the chief medical officer of the particular medical institute in which the person had undergone surgery.
Definition of a Transgender Person
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 under Section 2 (k) interprets the meaning of a transgender person as a person whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. Transgender people do not identify themselves with the gender they were born with. The definition of a transgender includes trans men, trans women, queers, and people with socio-cultural identities, that is, hijra, kinner, aravani, and jogta. A trans man and a trans woman also include a person undergoing sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.
Problems Faced by Transgender Persons
Despite awareness campaigns about transgenders, most people do not accept transgenders as a part of society. Transgenders are not only excluded from the community but they are also stigmatised.
Access to public spaces
Trangender people have to face vehement vitriol on a daily basis. People not only exclude them from society but forbid trans persons from entering public spaces, such as temples, public washrooms.
Landlords of buildings refuse to rent their apartments to transgender people.
Gender-based hate crimes and violence
Trans people typically become victims of sexual abuse, rape, workplace harassment, and many other heinous crimes. As individuals who do not conform to the binary gender system, they are often subjected to considerable cruelty and harassment as society tends to dismiss their experiences and struggles.
Trans people are rejected employment by organisations because of gender discrimination, which leads to economic marginalisation. Stripped of their employment rights, most people are compelled to enter low-status occupations such as prostitution, becoming a part of the exploitative entertainment industry, or resorting to begging as a means of survival.
Hospitals refuse to treat trans people infected with vulnerable sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and A. Both doctors and nurses disrespect and discriminate against them, and some people even treat them as untouchables.
Prohibition of Discrimination Against Transgender People
Section 3 of Chapter II of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act elaborates on the prohibition of discrimination against transgender. This section asserts that discrimination against a transgender is prohibited as follows:
- Biassed and prejudicial treatment in the employment field
- Discrimination and disrespect when receiving healthcare
- Deceitful behaviour concerning them enjoying public services or using any goods/accommodation.
- Refusal and ripping their rights to purchase a property and reside in their wishful location.
- Rejection and denial of appointment in government jobs or popular private establishments.
- Treating them like untouchables with unnecessary disrespect.
Rights Provided to Transgenders
Right of residence
Under Section 12 of the Transgender Act, transgender people are given a right of residence as follows:
- Every transgender person has been given a right to reside in a household where either their parents or immediate or current family resides.
- They are given a right that does not exclude them from their domicile
- They can enjoy these rights and use services and accommodations of the household.
Moreover, no person from the family can separate a child from their parents or immediate family on the grounds of them being transgender.
If a child has been separated for a valid reason, a competent court can investigate and confer to decide the child’s best interests. Clause 3 of this Section states that if any of the parents or a family member cannot care for a transgender minor, the competent court will take up this matter, and the court shall direct such a person to a rehabilitation centre.
Right of Employment
Section 9 of the Transgender Act outlines the protection against discrimination for transgender individuals in employment. The Section emphasises that no institution or establishment should discriminate against transgender individuals seeking employment. They should be treated on par with other job candidates, with no bias in recruitment, promotion, or any employment-related matter.
Right to Health Care
Section 15 of the Transgender Act addresses healthcare provisions specially for transgender individuals. The government is tasked with implementing effective measures encompassing the following:
- Medical care facilities, including sex reassignment surgeries and corresponding therapies.
- Spreading awareness of equal treatment for all patients, irrespective of their gender.
- The government facilitates separate human immunodeficiency virus surveillance centres for following the guidelines provided by the National AIDS Control Organisation.
- Set up some provisions related to coverage of medical expenses. Considering all discrimination, authorities should subsidise their medical bills.
Certification of Identity of a Transgender Individual
This portal provides all transgender people to digitally apply for a certificate and identification card. This certificate of identification is recognised on a national platform.
Every person who identifies themselves as a transgender person must acquire a certificate of identity as outlined under Sections 5 and 6 of the Act. These sections stipulate that application for this certificate should be made to the district magistrate, accompanied by necessary supporting documents.
Welfare Measures by the Government
The Indian Government has implemented various welfare measures for trangender individuals. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 safeguard their rights and enable online applications for identification certificates to minimise physical interactions.
- The rules will help protect the reputation and rights of trans people in India and will also help them in applying for an identification certificate digitally.
- The government has initiated a scheme known as ‘Shelter Home for Transgender Persons’ to provide trans people with food, shelter, clothes, skill development and employment opportunities, legal support, as well as facilities to assist them.
- Another scheme launched by the government is Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise (SMILE). The SMILE scheme focuses on rehabilitation, education, skills, counselling, and medical support.
- PM – DAKSH is another scheme for the welfare of transgender people. This scheme focuses on the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment skill development scheme. This scheme provides trans people with short-term courses and programmes on skill development.
- The National Council for Transgender Persons was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in August 2020.
Punishments and Penalties
Section 18, Chapter VIII of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, details the sanctions and penalties for offences against transgender individuals. This section specifies individuals who:
- Coerce or manipulate a transgender person into forced or child labour;
- Refuse any trans person the right of passage to a public place or denies the use of any public accommodation;
- Compel a transgender person to vacate their residence or leave a specific location;
- Physically or mentally harm, mistreat, or jeopardise the life, well-being, or health of a transgender individual.
In these cases, the person committing these offences can be punished with imprisonment for a term that is not less than 6 months along with a potential fine.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 helped people understand their problems and achieve dignity and recognition in society.
The government of India has provided trans people with facilities and programmes that could help them become independent financially and gain recognition and respect for their work in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Who can apply for an identification card and a certificate of identity?
Under the National Portal of Transgender Persons, only a transgender person [described in Section 2 (k) of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019] can apply for an identification card and a certificate for the same.
Why is the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 enacted?
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 has been constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to protect the rights of transgender persons. This act provided them with welfare schemes and facilities.
What is the National Council for Transgender Persons?
Section 16 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 informs people about the National Council for Transgender Persons.
The central government takes the initiative to set up this council to monitor the effects and impacts on the community of the policies launched by the legislation. This council also acts as a redressal cell that deals with the grievances of trans people.
What is the punishment for offences against transgender persons?
Section 18 of the Act details the punishments and penalties for discrimination against transgender people. The sentence shall be imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months. This imprisonment may extend to 2 years, including a fine.