The Trans Bill 2019 Is Evidence That India’s Govt Knows Nothing About Trans Rights

Dear Government,

The Trans Bill (Protection Of Rights) 2019 is actually a Bill for the violation of trans rights. Adding the term “protection of rights” doesn’t make it a bill to protect the rights of the trans community. The average Indian thinks of the hijra community, imagining them begging on streets whenever they hear the word trans. People still don’t understand the difference between intersex, transgender and transexual.

With a bill like this one. you are just fuelling the confusion further. When it comes to queer, gender non-binary, agender and gender fluid individuals, you all frown with confusion as if you have seen an alien.

I have been the part of protests against this bill since my graduation days. It’s been 2-3 years and every year, we have the same draconian bill coming up which has to be rejected.

You make some amendments, ignore major issues and then come up with the same thing with every year. It is hard to understand why this bill gets introduced in the first place as it seems you people know nothing about trans rights.

The previous bill which was introduced had similar problems, you just edited out a few points and came with a customised plan for putting trans and queer rights in place 10 years back. And the way this bill is passed, in such a hurry! To do so without considering proper discussions and ignoring protests by the trans and queer community reeks of desperation to pass it this year.

People often ask me: what is the problem with this bill? Here are a few points to understand.

Different Gender Identities Are Not Acknowledged

There are various gender identities apart from transgender within the spectrum which are often ignored. The categorisation according to this bill is oppressive.

Process To Assign One’s Gender

How will a person feel, standing naked in front of random unknown people to prove their gender? Horrible, right? This is soon going to be a reality for the whole community, as mentioned in this bill. I guess the government again forgets the right to dignity for all.

It also forgets the fact that poor people exist who cannot opt for sex reassignment surgery, which at times proves to be fatal. It indirectly makes sex reassignment surgery compulsory as they demand “proof of surgery.”

Punishment For Sexual Violence

It is not a hidden fact that women’s rights have taken a backseat with rapists getting open support and constant moral policing. With this bill, the attack on queer rights begins. The bill postulates that those who engage in sexual violence against trans persons will face punishment from 6 months to 2 years. Why so? Are transpeople not human?

There is already a plethora of sexual violence against the trans community in society, it seems that criminals are getting an open invitation to abuse trans people. And again, other sexual identities do not exist for them, so no punishment!

Residing With Their Birth Family

Be it queer people or women or anyone for that matter, whenever it comes to abusive birth families, we are made to “adjust.” In other words, “shut up.”

This bill is doing that legally to trans people. If their families are abusive, they cannot leave them. People from the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to face abuse from their families, often leading to forced marriages, rape, honour killings, conversion therapy, etc. This is a systematic way to support oppression.

People will be legally bound to stay with birth families hence, they will not be able to escape and find jobs to live in another city as there are already no legal procedures to complain against birth families.

It seems as if nobody taught this government anything about queer rights despite having few supporters from the community. Let me help you! Here’s what the bill should have done instead:

  1. The government should have sent the bill back to the selection committee.
  2. Discussed with the trans and queer community for suggestions.
  3. Added proper punishment against all forms of abuse carried out against the trans community.
  4. Included other orientations.
  5. Give the right to employment and education to community members for their empowerment.
  6. Provide medical benefits to community members as they are often denied and discriminated against when they access medical help.
  7. Ensured access to civil rights like accommodation, housing, etc.
  8. Set-up a commission to articulate issues in a better manner.

Making random bills in the name of empowerment and actually making a difference in the lives of a community that mainly comprises working-class individuals are two different things.

If as a cis-gender woman, I do not need any certification for my gender, then none of my trans sisters, brother, queer comrades needs it either.

Take the bill back. It only profits private clinics that earn a fortune by conversion therapy, it only helps the moral police to harass and bully the queer community, it also profits high-priced sex reassignment surgeons.

Trans people don’t owe you an explanation of their gender, evidence of their gender or their basic humanity. Trans people are as human as everyone else. Had it been any other government, I would have done the same, resisted the oppression.

Transmen are men, transwomen are women and trans rights are human rights.

Featured image source: Grace Banu/Facebook.
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