Well, first of all it’s a great pleasure for me to be able to share my thoughts on this topic. Even though many people in India are familiar with the struggles of the transgender community, their rights are denied. The trans and hijra communities have been part of our culture for possibly thousands of years. Despite this, they are marginalised from society – a topic that should be hotly debated.
The plight of the trans community is that they are, predominantly forced into begging or sex work. If the police finds them on the streets, they are beaten up and a charge is trumped up on them under IPC 377, an archaic law established during the British colonial period. They are ill-treated everywhere and are denied access to public toilets and washrooms. Even if they are permitted inside, they have to face questions and abuse: verbal, mental and even physical.
The Transgender Rights Bill has been recently passed by the legislature – which has awakened a ray of hope in our minds. Even the participation of a vast number of hijras in the Maha Kumbhmela held in Ujjain in 2016, was glorious. An initiative was started in Kerala for eradicating discrimination against transgender people. Known as ‘Gender Taxi’ it is a service that will be owned and operated operated by transgender people. A number of hospitals also provide sex reassignment facilities throughout India. But still, we have a long way to go.
The time has come to join hands and fight discrimination against transgender people. Only then will our nation be truly developed.