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Thursday 30 November 2017

Transgender Persons Bill 2016 is not for Trans community. Raise your voice, spread the word.


The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MOSJE), Government of India has reportedly rejected all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the transgender bill. Instead, the ministry will be tabling their earlier, unamended version, the 'Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016', in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.
The Bill, in its current form, is a direct attack on the NALSA Verdict given by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court of India in the year 2014, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional rights of transgender and other gender-variant individuals living in India.
In accordance with Yogyakarta’s Principles, adopted by the United Nations in the year 2007, the Apex Court also recognized the right to self-determination of one’s gender identity, i.e., none other than a person has the absolute right to determine/ choose their gender identity; and the State has no business in determining the same and taking away peoples agency over their sense of self. This principle, i.e., self-determination of one’s gender identity, has also been reflected in the Right to Privacy verdict given by the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India.
In the light of the NALSA verdict, the need for legislation protecting the rights of the transgender and other gender-variant communities becomes absolutely essential.

However, the current Bill is a hugely problematic text that undermines the NALSA verdict by doing away with the central tenet of self-determination of gender identity. 
While drafting this Bill, the government ignored all the recommendations sent by various organizations and collectives working for the rights of transgender and other gender and sexual minority communities.
This is NOT the legislation that the transgender and other gender-variant communities need and amounts to the deliberate undermining of their rights and the reversal of progress made by them since 2014 after centuries of struggle.

1. The Bill Uses a Faulty Definition of Transgender Persons:
Instead of using the globally accepted definition of transgender person, The Bill uses a faulty definition for identifying transgender persons which has absolutely no scientific foregrounding. It intentionally creates confusion around the biological sex of transgender persons and makes almost all the self- identified transgender persons once again illegal in India.

The Bill Takes Away the Right to Self-Determination:
The Bill snatches away transgender person's right to self-determine their gender identity and talks of a ‘Screening Committee’ for issuing a certificate of identity in order to invoke rights under the Bill. The question raises, why only transgender individuals’ gender identity or sense of self needs to be verified by the State? Is it not the violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India (non- discrimination), where a transgender person would have to prove their gender identity to the State, while others would enjoy their sense of gender?

Faulty and Deterministic attitude to Determine Transgender Persons:
The presence of a medical doctor in the screening committee, as well as the definition of transgender persons in the Bill, indicate that person’s biological sex, or more precisely the genitalia they are born with, will be given the highest importance to identify transgender persons. Biological sex of one person has nothing to do with one’s psychological sex or gender identity.

The Bill Criminalizes the Livelihoods of Transgender Persons:
The Bill criminalizes begging without clearly defining them as well as without providing any other options for the livelihood of the transgender communities. It also unnecessarily criminalizes Hijra family structure which has been acting as safe shelters for several distressed transgender and other queer individuals over the centuries.

The Bill is Silent on Reservation for Transgender Persons:
While the NALSA Verdict asked the government to provide reservation of the transgender individuals, this provision has been omitted in the Bill, which has led to the derecognition of the structural barriers that the transgender and other gender-variant communities face in accessing employment and education.

It conflates Transgender Individuals with Persons with Intersex Variations:
It has forcefully conflated persons with intersex variations under the transgender umbrella. If one goes by what has been defined as ‘transgender person’ in the Bill, all the intersex persons are being termed as ‘transgender’ and the bill snatches away the agency over their gender identity from them.

In this context, we are requesting you to raise your voice against this Bill, which will eventually make the marginalized transgender communities once again illegal in India.

1. Tweet to the Prime Minister Office or any other appropriate authorities, saying that “I oppose the Transgender Persons Bill, 2016”. For Prime Minister Office, you may tweet here:

2. Send a Postcard to the Prime Minister of India (at Prime Minister Office 152, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi - 110011), saying "I oppose the Transgender Persons Bill because it will curtail the rights of the transgender and Hijra communities, as well as persons with intersex variations."

3. Send an email to the PMO (email id:, saying, "I oppose the Transgender Persons Bill because it will curtail the rights of the transgender and Hijra communities, as well as persons with intersex variations."

Spread this Campaign amongst your friends, allies, and supporters.

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