“People laugh at me because I look different, and I laugh at them because they all look the same” – Chandani Gore – Activist, Nirbhaya Anandi Jivan and Head of NCP Pune Unit.
First, let’s learn some terms
transgender people have a different gender identity than those assigned at birth. Some transgender people want medical assistance to transition from their gender to the gender they identify with. A person who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female is a trans woman, and a person who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male is a trans man.
A intersex person was born with ambiguous sex characteristics, including chromosomal patterns, gonads, or genitalia.
cisgender people not identify as transgender, that is, whose gender identity is the same as assigned at birth.
Addressing harassment faced by the transgender community
Parents of transgender people harass and disown them, so they expect little from society. Society has always alienated them. All types of slurs are used to address transgender people in India Chhakka, Meetha etc
Why can’t they be treated as people? There has been a lot of struggle and hassle for their community to thrive. Therefore, as they pursue education and employment, are they considered equal even today? The most absurd thing is that some cisgender people are afraid of it, especially when they come to beg or on the streets. I have seen women being afraid of it. But the truth is that they don’t even bother women for money most of the time.
This is why it is necessary to educate people about community and gender equality. people use the word ‘Hijrah’ insult someone by accusing them of being impotent or incapable. It is humiliating because they are not weak. Transphobia must be brought under control.
One of the concerns is access to the toilets. They are not comfortable using the men’s washroom. Even if they use them, they are often harassed by men. They are not welcome in the ladies’ room.
Women are especially afraid and undermine their dignity by accusing or insulting them. Recently, the Delhi government announced toilet for the third sex. The community welcomed the move. The Tamil Nadu government has also set rules requiring its police officers to stop harassing LGBTQ+ Indians by order of a High Court Judge.
I have often come across questions like “They can do any job other than begging.” The truth is that we forced them to beg, prostitute themselves or dance in bars. Society doesn’t even accept trans people who are educated and have better credentials.
Minorities often feel the need to prove themselves, whether it’s the Dalits or the LGBTQ community. As a result, they fight against brutal and persistent discrimination and intimidation. They are denied jobs even when they are qualified.
During the pandemic, their situation worsened. During the confinement, they had no source of income. There were no weddings, traffic lights or bar shows. Even the trains were stopped. The government had announced $1500 in aid for the community, but they needed all the paperwork in place, which most don’t have. Access to health care was a problem.
On April 15, 2014, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India, India’s Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, said transgender people ‘third sex’.
The act affirmed that the basic rights granted under the Constitution of India would apply equally to them and gave them the right to self-identify as male, female or third gender. However, the court also held that because transgender people were treated as socially and economically backward classes, they would be granted reservations in admissions to educational institutions and jobs.
Another bill was passed, The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019. It prohibits discrimination against them in employment, education, housing, health care and other services. There was a lot of concern about this by the community and activists.
The bill requires that each person be recognized as “transgender” on the basis of a certificate of identity issued by a district magistrate when the NALSA Judgment said that self-identification was enough.
On a positive note
India’s first transgender clinic has opened in Hyderabad as Miter Clinic. The clinic was created by trans people, mainly to fight against AIDS. India has the world’s third largest population living with HIV, according to UNAIDS.
The government aims to make India an AIDS-free nation by 2030. However, some hospitals discriminate against them and refuse to treat them. Some doctors and nurses wear multiple gloves to examine trans people. As a result, they are insulted and also exploited.
“Even after showing an ID they won’t accept me as a doctor, imagine the level of discrimination others might experience” – Doctor Prachi Rathod – Mitr Clinic.
Many other clinics like Mitr Clinic should be created, hoping that trans people can go and talk about their problems without any other thought in mind. Counseling sessions and sex education are equally important in raising awareness among sex workers about sexually transmitted diseases.
Gauri Sawant is an activist and director of Sakhi Char Chowghi which helps transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS. She is also a goodwill ambassador for the Maharashtra Election Commission. She is the first transgender person to petition the Supreme Court of India for adoption rights for transgender people.
She says, “You accept Arjun’s avatar as Brihannala, Harihara putra Ayappa who is the son of two men – Shiva and Vishnu, Mohini avatar of Vishnu, Annapurna avatar of Swami Samarth; but you have a problem with we… There’s doctors even for dogs, but they’re cowering to touch us for treatment.
She also created an NGO called Aajicha Ghar for abandoned girls and destitute transgender seniors. The main objective behind Aajicha Ghar is to rescue girls, raise them, give them education and good moral values.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) document was signed between the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) and the India HIV/AIDS Alliance. The two organizations will now jointly organize consultation workshops at national and regional levels to reach consensus on critical issues.
Jyoti Mandal is someone who faced many struggles and braved all kinds of discrimination to become the first Bengali transgender to become a member of a civil court judicial panel.
Yes, some conditions change for the community. It is only because of the continuous struggles and turmoil that the militants have gone through. They first educated themselves and then educated other members of the community.
Reservation for education and government jobs should be made available to have opportunities to stand on an equal footing in society. Many of them have jobs and homes, but that’s still just a drop in the ocean. There is still a lot to do.