The Social Justice ministry has sent a Bill on transgender rights to the Cabinet after finalising nine amendments, including those in the definition of the term ‘transgender’, keeping with the recommendations of a parliamentary panel.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill that has undergone inter-ministerial consultation and was vetted by the law ministry has been sent to the Cabinet, a senior ministry official said.
The earlier definition of a transgender was “neither wholly male nor female, a combination of female or male, or neither female nor male and whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at the time of birth”, has been removed, as per the advice of the standing committee, he said.
The official said according to the new definition proposed in the Bill, “a transgender means a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-women (whether or not such persons has undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy)”.
It also includes person with intersex variations, gender-queer and person having such socio-cultural identities such as ‘kinnar’, ‘hijra’, ‘aravani’ and ‘jogta’, he said.
The ministry has also done away with the provision of recommendation required from district screening committees for issuing a certificate, if a transgender undergoes a surgery to change his or her gender.
A transgender, who has already been issued a certificate and undergoes a surgery to his or her gender, may now get a it from the medical superintendent or chief medical officer, authenticating the same to make an application to the district magistrate for a revised certificate.
“The district magistrate on receipt of an application and after being satisfied will issue a certificate indicating change in gender in such form and manner and within such time, as may be prescribed,” the official said.
The standing committee had called for removing some provisions after hearing the contentions of the stakeholders that transgenders were reluctant to undergo a physical examination in front of the district screening committee for a certificate.
“The standing committee wondered why will the same person would apply again for a certificate and undergo the same procedure which he went earlier,” the official said.
Besides, now every establishment, irrespective of how many people are employed there, will have to designate a officer to deal with complaints, he said.
Earlier, establishments of 100 or more people had to designate a complaint officer.
The standing committee had expressed dismay over the functions of the national council for redressal of grievances of transgenders not being precisely mentioned, the officials said.
It had recommended that the council be vested with more power and that its powers and functions be elaborated, he said.
Following this, the Centre has specified that the council will advise the central government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects for transgenders, the official said.
The ministry did not make any changes on the recommendation that transgenders be exempted from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises homosexuality and including them in the other backward classes category.
The council will also monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgenders, review and coordinate the activities of all departments and NGOs, redress grievances among others.