A protest was staged against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, passed in the Lok Sabha last week, at the Azad Maidan on Wednesday. Protesters said despite repeated opposition from the transgender community, the Bill called for screening committees at a district level that will certify transgenders.
“Now a panel will decide whether we are transgender or not. We wish to reveal our identity ourselves because no one else can judge our identities for us,” said activist Madhuri Sarvoday Sharma.
Sharma added, “The bill says begging can be penalised. ‘Badhai’ is a part of hijra culture. Even when Ram was born, ‘kinnars’ received ‘badhai’ as is narrated in the Ramayana. Society gave us the right to receive ‘badhai’ and give blessings in return. Give us employment first and then we will stop what they call begging. We don’t even receive loans and government assurances of inclusion are only on paper.”
Vicky Shinde, a transgender activist and founder of Shivshakti Foundation, said people tend to think of transgenders as sex workers, bar dancers or beggars. Born a boy, Shinde identifies as a transgender.
“How I wish to live is my choice, I don’t need a certificate to decide that for me. I have been looking for a house, but no one is ready to give me, a transgender, a house on lease,” added Shinde.
A statement issued by the organisers of the protest, Gaurav Foundation and Sakhi Char Chowghi Trust, read, “This is a violation of the Supreme Court judgement in NALSA vs UoI (2014) which upheld our right to self-determination of gender, without compulsory medical intervention. It criminalises organised begging without providing opportunities in education, employment or healthcare.”