The revolutionary decision of the Bihar government to recruit transgender people as state under-inspectors and police officers has opened the door to opportunities to fulfill their ambitions. Following the 2014 Apex Court ruling for mainstreaming transgender people, this inherent commitment reinforces the government’s view of their long-awaited acceptance in society.
Transgender people are the most marginalized part of our society. They are deprived of their basic rights and privileges. Their exclusion from all walks of life, whether in social, religious, cultural, political, professional, educational, medical or other sectors, has made their lives miserable.
Transgender (TG) is basically an umbrella term that includes the person whose own gender sense does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth. They include trans men or women (regardless of whether this person has undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or some other therapy), gender questions, persons with intersex variations and a number of socio-cultural identities such as Kinnar, Hijra, Aravani, Jogta, Shivshakti etc. These people are often discriminated against because of their transgender identity, expression or behavior.
This group of people is rejected by their parents first and then by society as a whole. They are not given a right of inheritance and have to leave the parental home. Accordingly, they have no one to rely on; other than as their own physical and mental group. For lack of social acceptance, inaccessibility of education, their unwillingness to get a job and so many reasons; they eventually become unemployed or understaffed. To earn a living, they have to struggle at every step and are sometimes forced into gross devotion by begging, snatching, or even prostitution.
Failure to recognize the identity of Hijra / transgender people denies them equal protection by law, leaving them extremely vulnerable to harassment, violence and mistreatment in public places, at home and in prison, including by the police. Sexual assaults, including sexual assault, rape, forced anal and oral sex, gang rape and stripping, are committed with impunity.
Our society rarely realizes the trauma, pain, and pain transgender people experience, nor does it appreciate their innate feelings, especially those whose mind and body deny their biological sex. They are forced to live with low self-esteem, low income and poor social dignity. These people are so neglected that the homeowners don’t rent them out because they think other residents will be uncomfortable. Transgender people face fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, social stigma, etc.
Although in some cases people complain about rough transgender behavior, objectionable comments and vigorous begging. In some places they are blackmailed and even children are held hostage for money. They become ruthless and barbaric because they provide for their needs. But such rare incidents can be handled under existing laws.
In India, the transgender people have a mythological and historical background, as they had a glorious, half-frightened status in society. The concept of “Tritiya Prakriti” or “Napunsaka” (to indicate the absence of reproductive power) is an integral part of Ved and Puran. They have been described with important role in Mahabharat and Ramayan. Lord Ram has enabled them to give blessings to people on auspicious occasions such as weddings, births and inaugural events; which later turned into an adapted “Badhai”, on which the Hijras sing, dance and bless. In Kurukshetra Yuddha of Mahabharat, the decisive role was played by Shikhandi, a transgender person, in Arjun’s murder of Bhishma Pitamah. Aravan, the son of Arjun and Nagkanya, also had the association with transgender Mohini (transformed feminine form of Lord Krishna) before sacrificing himself to goddess Kali for Pandav’s victory.
The transgender people played a prominent role in the royal court of the Islamic world, especially in the Ottoman Empire and Mugal rule. Jain literature also includes reference to TG, which mentions the concept of “psychological sex.” Actually, their situation changed drastically during the British rule in 1871 when the entire Hijra community was established as a criminal tribe. With the passage of time and changes in the social and cultural context, the majority of them are now leaving their traditional profession.
In India, in its groundbreaking judgment of April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court designated transgender as the “third gender” to safeguard their fundamental rights, declaring them socially and economically backward citizens. An “Expert Committee”, set up under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MOSJE) for in-depth study of transgender people, has recommended several measures to alleviate their problems. This ministry has been created a hub to accelerate welfare work with convergence of different ministries and their arrangements.
The schemes that the committee advocates for transgender people consist of a loan with a 25% subsidy to become self-employed, a pension scheme for the 40-60 year olds and a subsidy to voluntary organizations. who are committed to their empowerment. The recommendations are also for setting up advisory services to address trauma and violence crises, involvement of Anganwadi workers and self-help groups on TG issues, action against delinquent police officers in case of violation of their fundamental rights, workplace sexual harassment policies transgender inclusive, and provide housing assistance for them.
In the education sector, the government must provide scholarships, fee waivers, free hostels and other facilities at a subsidized rate. An anti-discrimination cell will be established to monitor discrimination against TG and content about TG will be incorporated into the curriculum of adolescent education. For their well-being, career guidance and online placement support, vocational training and survey to identify their population should also be done. Under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP) was established in 2020 to advise, monitor, review and coordinate policies and resolve their complaints. To this end, a screening committee has been set up at district level under the leadership of the district judge.
In addition to government initiatives to eradicate the social stigma of the transgender community, intensive public awareness is needed. Some TV show producers have also come forward to highlight such pertinent and serious issues through series like “Shakti – Astitwa ke Ehsaas ki”.
In addition to India, transgender people are also recognized as third gender in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangala Desh, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. In the US, people are struggling to recognize legal gender outside of the male-female binary code (such as Ay gender, gender fluid, and pan gender).
Transgender people are neither physically handicapped nor mentally handicapped; but only misses social identity in their life. If we are to thrive, the only way for a well-educated advanced society to include the whole third gender group in the mainstream activities is by empowering them, well-educated, skilled and Atmanirbhar citizen.
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