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Asserting the Transgender Dignity: In Development of equality in equity

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This will come s no surprise to those who read my Article – I am a conservative. I also support the rights of transgendered people and people of other sexual orientations to live their lives free of harassessment and to full protection and privileges of the law.

I also believe that God loves all of his children.

Now, with that said, I also believe a person can and should raise issues about transgenderism that challenges it. Without challenge we just have group think and that is dangerous.

For example, we know we have people struggling with their gender identity. As compassionate human beings, we should care about their pain and work to help them alleviate it. My question is we know the mind and body are in conflict but why always assume it is the body that is “wrong” and that physically changing the body will resolve the conflict and ease the pain?

Also, I oppose hormone treatments for children. This isn’t anti-transgender but based on a belief that children are not developed adults and artificially delaying or changing their development does more harm than good. Be nurturing and accepting of them, but let them develop naturally without chemicals being pumped into them.

We need to be truly tolerant, not just to those with whom you agree. As part of the struggle there are developments took place on many occasions with ups and down of the journey which is followed below.

In a landmark decision accepting transgender person rights by Supreme Court in 2014, popularly referred to as the (National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment and another historically deed to marginalised transgender community had been officially recognised by Judiciary as the third gender in 2015. The transgender persons (protection of rights) Bill, 2016, which seeks to define transgender and prohibit discrimination against them, was introduced in the Lok Sabha, the centre and state governments were directed to extend reservation for socially and educationally backward classes to transgender communities in India. The Central Government shall by notification constitute a National Council for Transgender to exercise the powers conferred on, and to perform the functions assigned to it, under this Act  to advise the Central Government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons;  to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons;  to review and coordinate the activities of all the Departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons;  to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

The Karnataka state government initiated with the final draft of its policy for transgender and circulated it to all departments for comments and suggestions in 2014 by set up of 11-member sub-committee to frame a policy for transgender persons in Karnataka, in line with the Supreme Court order and the subcommittee submitted a draft policy to the Department of Women and Child Development by July 2014.

The objective of the policy for transgender persons will be to suggest measures for their socio-economic development as well as to take care of health, education and psychological aspects. It will recommend steps to give them opportunities for proper employment or entrepreneurship so that they can live with respect and dignity,”

The Karnataka state took “good move” and set a community hope for something concrete to emerge the developments of “Social, economic and educational aspects for the mobility of the community will to be addressed.

Karnataka state policy for transgender was expected to come before the cabinet on 26th Oct 2017 in the chairmanship of Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka, Finally the draft transgender policy got approved by the cabinet of Government of Karnataka, which Includes Female to Male, Gender non-conforming, Male to Female, other Transgender identities. Which is largely highlights the education, gender identity, anti-discrimination committee in work place and public etc.

This marks a historic step forward for the transgender rights movement as it demonstrates that the Government of Karnataka has acknowledged the non-discriminatory nature of the policy.

The community welcomes very graciously the Karnataka Transgender Policy finalised by the Karnataka Government.

Furthermore, community members want to move ahead under implementation in to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender community and organisation for the welfare of the Transgender communities in Karnataka without any discriminatory process in execution of the Karnataka Transgender Policy 2017.

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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