“Transgender Bill 2018 is a suicide notice for us,” said Grace Banu, a transgender activist from Tamil Nadu. Voicing the transgender community’s anger at the Jantar Mantar protest on Friday, Banu said, “the Bill has left us with no hopes, it is trying to kill our urge to live.”
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill and Trafficking Bill passed recently in the Lok Sabha has sparked outrage among the transgender community. Transgender rights activists, human rights activists and the entire community at large claimed the Bill violates privacy by mandating a “screening test” for gender identification.
The Bill also criminalises begging, which is a primary source of income for the community without assuring an alternative income opportunity. It further deprives the community from living wherever they want. Banu said the government does not want us to be seen publicly, “which is why now the court will decide where we should stay”.
Addressing the gathering, Banu called the Bill transphobic. “Instead of providing the rights and protection that the Bill was intended for, it takes control over one’s identity and rights.”
Calling the Bill a compensation for the Section 377 judgment, transgender journalist Christy Raj said, “The Bill is being used to make up for Section 377. You gave us freedom and now you are trapping us and eventually want to kill us.”
NALSA vs 2018 Transgender Bill
Demanding that the 2018 Bill be scrapped and the NALSA judgment be implemented, Chandramukhi, the only transgender who contested elections in Telangana asked: “The community was not consulted. There are no transgenders in Parliament, they don’t even understand gender identity. Then on what basis was the Bill passed?
In the landmark NALSA judgment, the Supreme Court laid down that transgender persons have a constitutional right to self-identify their gender as male, female or transgender without medical intervention. The court said: “Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and no one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including SRS, sterilisation or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity”. However, the new Bill does not allow for recognition of gender identity as male or female and only allows for an identity certificate as ‘transgender’.
The 2014 NALSA judgement also mandated reservation for transgender and intersex persons in educational institutions and in public employment.
Tiruchi Siva Bill
“We want Tiruchi Siva’s Bill. We do not want a screening committee. My life started after I left my family, so why is this Bill against that? Why can’t we beg? Why is it invading our sexuality and our bodies? This Bill needs to be scrapped,” said Kiran Naik, a transgender, disability and Adivasi activist from Karnataka.
DMK MP Tiruchi Siva’s was the first private member Bill to be passed in 2014. The Bill had provided for 2 per cent reservations in education and employment within the OBC quota and was widely applauded for its overall progressive stand. It also had provisions for medical help, legal aid, separate fast-track courts for them.
The protest organised by the South Indian Transgender Federation(SITF) saw hundreds of people from the transgender community across the country speaking one language. “My body, my right”.