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Manpreet Singh
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Transgender persons in India have historically been subject to violence and discrimination through laws that have criminalized their lives and livelihoods. Despite recent legal and judicial developments that have corrected these historical wrongs, transgender person relationship with the penal state continues to be a fragile one, evident in laws and practices that either targets them, or address them as a distinct category, or neglect them entirely. One such site of legal and policy discrimination the prison. Transgender persons in prison are likely to face particular harms on the basis of their identity. that are compounded by harms that characterize the conditions of confinement. While transgender persons are made hyper-visible in public spaces, they are invisible in laws, rules, and practices.
Transgender persons encounter social, legal, and political hostilities on the basis of their gender identity. Routine discrimination in accessing education, employment, health care, and housing, and a range of other socioeconomic and cultural factors compel some transgender persons to engage in often criminalized means of making a living, such as begging and sex work. It results in harassment, violence, arbitrary arrest, and illegal detention,9 in turn, creating a fear of engaging with the justice system. Harmful stereotypes regarding transgender persons, stigmatization, regular harassment, and violence have characterized their engagement with the criminal justice system in India. Since prisons reproduce the dynamics of power observed in society,41 transgender prisoners are likely to experience identical forms of harm in confinement, exacerbated by the harms endemic to prisons. The placement of transgender prisoners in men’s or women’s prisons influences their treatment due to gender-specific practices, such as dress codes and body searches and the gendered hierarchies that characterize prison culture. Accounts by transgender persons reveal that they face verbal, physical, and sexual violence in prisons by jail wardens and other inmates. Further, no provisions have been made for the specific medical care facilities that transgender prisoners.
In order to solve their position, the process of framing future inquiries and conceptualizing reform requires insight into the daily realities of prison life from transgender prisoners. Future studies that aim at legal and policy reform in India foreground the self-narratives of transgender prisoners should be made.