The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19, was passed by a voice vote on August 5. A contentious provision that criminalised begging by transgender people has been removed from the Bill.
Who is a transgender person?
The Bill defines a transgender as a person whose gender assigned at birth does not match with his/her perceived gender. This includes trans-men, trans-women, “(whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, genderqueer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinner, hijra, aravani and jogta”.
What are the provisions?
The Bill states that a transgender person shall have the right to self-perceived gender identity. It prohibits discrimination against a transgender person on grounds including denial, discontinuation or unfair treatment in educational establishments, services, employment, healthcare.
According to an analysis by PRS Legislative Research, every transgender person will have the right to be included in their household, and in case the immediate family is unable to take care of the person, he/she may be placed in a rehabilitation centre.
The government shall provide education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender people. Provisions for separate HIV surveillance centres and sex reassignment surgeries should also be provided by the government, as per the Bill.
The Bill mentions that the “appropriate Government” will formulate transgender sensitive, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory welfare schemes and programmes. Additionally, the government should also take steps for the rescue, rehabilitation and protection of transgender persons.
The Grievance Redressal Mechanism
The Bill states that every establishment will have to appoint a complaints officer to deal with complaints relating to the violation of any provisions.
What is the Certificate of Identity?
A transgender person will have to make an application to the District Magistrate, who will issue a certificate of identity to the transgender person. Essentially, this certificate will be proof that the person is a transgender, reflecting their gender as “transgender”.
Subsequently, the gender of the person as reflected in the certificate will be recorded in all official documents. In case of a minor child, such an application will be made by the parent or guardian of the child. A transgender person will be eligible for a revised certificate only if he/she undergoes surgery to change their gender.
What is the National Council for Transgender Persons?
In order to exercise the provisions and functions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the Central Government will set up the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCT), on appointment. This body will consist of the Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson), a Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice- Chairperson), a Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice, and one representative each from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.
Representatives of the NITI Aayog and the National Human Rights Commission will also be included, along with five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organisations.
This body will advise, monitor and review the policies and schemes formulated by the central government for transgender people.
What constitutes offences and penalties under this Bill?
Any person who is found to be compelling a trangender person into bonded labour (barring compulsory service imposed by the government), denying right of public passage to a transgender person, evicting a transgender from his/her place of residence, causing physical, sexual, verbal, economic and emotional abuse, can be penalised with imprisonment of not less than six months, that can extend up to two years, and be also fined.