The Transgender Persons Bill,2016, defines transgenders and prohibit discrimination against them, this bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha a couple of years ago and after a lot of discussions and deliberations, the Bill was passed with 27 amendments.
The Transgender Persons Bill was an outcome of the NALSA Vs India judgment by Supreme Court in the year 2014, which ruled that transgender people should be legally recognized according to their gender identity, enjoy all fundamental rights, and receive special benefits in education and employment.
The objective of the bill is to protect interests of the transgenders and defining the term ‘transgender’, to give them recognition and also setting up of a national transgender council.
The amendments passed includes a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female or wholly male”, to the new definition - “the person whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person naturally at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender -queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta.
• It defines a transgender person as someone who is persons with intersex variations, trans-men or trans-women, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta.
• A district screening committee will determine if a person is a transgender and issues a certificate.
• If the person undergoes sex-change surgery, the doctor will issue the certificate.
• They can't be discriminated in education, employment, and housing.
• The right against discrimination at work, the right to not be extended from the property.
• Setting up of Vocational Training Institutes and providing relevant medical facilities.
While it is a positive sign that the government is taking some interest in the rights of transgender persons but this Bill has been criticised on various aspects by experts and the transgender community itself as it lacks details and seems to be passed hurriedly without taking the actual demands of the transgender community.
• Bill negates self-identification as prescribed by the SC in NALSA judgment as the bill provides for sex identification by District Magistrate issuing certificates after screening.
• Definition of transgender includes intersex persons, it is not the case that all intersex persons are transgender.
• It criminalises begging, their main occupation as they are left with no option as being discriminated of education, job and healthy wellbeing.
• Bill proposes national transgender commission but nothing about its composition, structure, grievance redressal.
• Supreme Court in NALSA judgment directed to provide for reservation, bill totally ignores the part of the reservation.
• Punishment of imprisonment for a period of six months to two years for sex crimes against transgender people which is much lighter punishment as compared to similar crimes against women.
This bill is a welcome step for rights of transgenders but several amendments are needed in order to do justice with transgenders, empower them as they have been deprived, and denied access to the economic, social, and cultural opportunities that are necessary for leading a dignified life in society.
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