The Government of India passed the ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This ensures various rights to those whose gender doesn’t match the one assigned at birth so as to assimilate them into the mainstream society that for long has stereotyped them. But can provisioning of laws eradicate the ills these people face daily?
If one goes through the act itself, it is quite evident that it does not recommend any quota system in jobs and education. While this is being demanded, there also exist people who feel that such affirmative actions end up deepening the discrimination instead of uprooting it. The need is that of genuine empowerment. This can come via other steps which demand the involvement of the transgenders, the Government, and the society. The former needs to take a step forward and approach educational institutes themselves while the latter two need to make the environment conducive and congenial to enable this. The same needs to be done in healthcare and employment too. Although, there are provisions for these in the Act, proper training of the staff at institutional level along with inculcating sensitivity is the requirement instead of just one time help that reservations would provide. After all, change is needed within individuals rather than just infrastructure.
The Act also provides for punishment and penalties for those who involve in discrimination. Here care must be taken that fear of law can’t re-engineer the mindset of anyone and exploitation can happen anytime the law becomes loose. Also, many times even these penalties become a tool for misuse, or the victim doesn’t find it comfortable to approach the authorities because of many apprehensions. Moreover, the transgenders in our country have been economically deprived for years. Involving in FIRs and cases thus aren’t desirable.
One more controversial clause is that of receiving a certificate of identity from the District Magistrate. Both merits and demerits are strong on this and so the transgenders themselves need to come out with a solution to this. Intention is not to doubt the whole community but the fact that every section of the society suffers from wrong-doers and it is our responsibility to filter them out from our cause.
Above all, the Indian society must remember the Rig Vedic lesson of ‘Vikriti Evam Prakriti’ which means that ‘what seems unnatural is very much a part of this nature’. We are a nation that for centuries have revered the valour of people like Shikhandi in our epics. Thus, it is time we don’t label people the way we want to recognize them but the way they want to be recognized. And this time, the trans people want to be recognized as empowered and self-reliant just like any other individual wants to. Let not our prejudices deprive someone of a just world to live in.