The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill received presidential assent on 5th December 2019, following which the Ministry of Law and Justice notified in the Gazette of India as Act number 40 of 2019. The Act came into effect from 10th January 2020 onwards, with a notification in the Gazette on the same day by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Even though the Act prohibits discrimination endured to the transgender communities, it implies no way of punishment if such a situation occurs. It recognises the right to ‘self-perceived’ gender identity, but it requires them to be officially recognised as a transgender person by the government through a certificate, which is extended to their choice for surgical intervention in their bodies.
This requires approval on the correctness of the certificate from the District Magistrate, granted by the Chief Medical Officer of that medical institution. This explicitly implies a transgender body as a state subject.
Even the punishment for rape cases is lenient in the case of transgender persons. Also, the National Council of Transgender Person is given to have just five members from transgender communities, and few representatives of the non-governmental organisations for transgender communities.
We have witnessed subordination and exclusion of the transgender community by the mainstream society since time immemorial. They are denied access to jobs, face harassment in their living and public places, shamed by slurs such as ‘chakka‘. All these just remain a mere example of their ongoing struggle.
In the current scenario, the community needs proper education, well-paid jobs, and representation in mainstream society so that they can live a life of dignity and respect, which is certainly a distant possibility in the absence of reservation of the community in jobs and educational institutions. Homogeneous acceptance of transgender communities by all sections of society isn’t a cakewalk, and this only becomes more difficult with an Act which is a question within itself.