The upper house of the Indian parliament has passed today the Transgender Persons Protection Bill 2019 that seeks to protect the rights of transgender persons by granting them recognition and making welfare provisions for them.
The bill, which was moved for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha by Social Justice Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot, provides a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
As per a report in Live Law, the Bill describes a transgender person as one whose gender does not replicate the gender designated at birth. It comprises trans-men and trans-women, people with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities.
It forbids discrimination against a transgender person, including refusal of service or prejudicial treatment in relation to: education, employment, healthcare, access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public, right to movement, right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office, and access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
However, a section of the transgender community has been vehemently opposing the passage of the 2019 bill. The Transgender Persons Bill was first passed in 2014. Many persons belonging to the community had then hailed the bill as ideal, asserting that it was consistent with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment of the Supreme Court, which gave transgenders the right to “self-identification” as male, female or third-gender, and granted reservations in educational institutions as well as in jobs sector.
Several activists have alleged that the current bill dehumanises transgender people and openly disregard the 2014 Supreme Court judgment. The activists have asserted that inclusion of certain contentious provisions betrays the foundational principals of the originally conceived bill.
The Bill mandates transgender persons to go through a district magistrate to get certified as a trans person and a revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to confirm their gender. The bill also does not provide any provisions for an appeal or reconsideration of the decision taken by the District Magistrate if an individual is denied the certificate.