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The transgender equality bill has played a significant role in LGBTQ history in India. The law has been marketed as a landmark piece of legislation with key changes including broadening protections against discrimination, increasing the length of time for which trans people can access their government-issued documents, and changing the legal definition of sex to include gender identity. Is it due to these laws are that there has been a significant increase in the number of suicide and suicidal attempt cases among transgenders? Indeed, there have also been better serve and more support systems created for them. But why can’t we give people an option to choose who they want to be?
The biggest problem with the new bill is the process that must be followed for legal gender recognition. It is a process by which trans persons can declare to the District Magistrate (South) their identity to be reflected in various documents such as birth certificates, passports, etc. One of the steps within this process requires trans persons to submit proof of surgery, issued by a government hospital official, to the District Magistrate for a second evaluation and he/she must be satisfied with the correctness. The new Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 does not address a misalignment with the Constitution. In India, there is no fundamental right to self-identify one’s gender. The state does not yet recognize the third gender and nor do courts. There are also problems around health care in India: they provide no universal financial support for trans health needs, including treatment for gender dysmorphia.
The social and medical ravages of the third gender are well known and the Supreme Court has brought succor to most of them for now. Rather than being seen as perversity by society, transgenders must be given due respect and their societal space enlarged. This should extend to greater educational opportunities in modern India where education is a vital key to economic self-reliance. Human rights should be a foundation for a country’s legal system. Approaching social issues with an understanding of human rights principles should help countries address issues related to transgender people respectfully and effectively. We can see how this is already working in some countries with good laws protecting transgender people without requiring unnecessary medical interventions.
The laws on transgender are to differentiate the kind of gender dysphoria people should be treated with medical procedures instead of being recognized as gender minorities to be accepted and lived with dignity. After the rapid advancement of human rights, this question may sound controversial. However, it is necessary to ask and answer such questions. Within the context of transgender people’s fight for a discrimination-free life, this blog seeks to explore the topic.