I am Not A Hijra = I am Not A Hater
The “I am Not A Hijra” campaign was deleted from various news media last week. The photo campaign was one of the first among the 5 awareness activities to protest against the new Transgender Bill draft that was introduced in Lok Sabha on 2nd of August 2016. It subtly displayed concerns about the new transgender bill. However some people termed the photo series as hate speech, classist and casteist. Thereby misunderstanding the message of the campaign; making the same misconception as the drafters of the Transgender Person’s Rights Bill 2016.
Release of the draft of the new bill kickstarted a public discussion thread on TransgenderINDIA Talk. The bill intimidated most transgender people involved in the forum discussion. Majority of the users raised concerns about the following 4 issues in the bill.
1. Definition of a Transgender person.
The new transgender bill is a fiasco from the first page onwards. It starts with a fundamental confusion, the way too much limited & stereotyped definition of transgender. The definition stereotypes & outcastes a majority of the transgender people from the bill. It seems like it is heavily biased towards some Indigenous Cultural Transgender communities of India.
Points A,B & C essentially mean the same thing , but unnecessarily repeats itself 3 times. This unnecessary repetition reinforces some popular stereotypical beliefs in general population about some Indigenous Cultural Transgender communities of India.
“Incorrect definition takes away the foundation of the whole bill”
2. Self Certification limited to Transgender.
The bill does not give the opportunity for transgender people to self certify one’s gender as male or female. The only option of recognition provided in the bill is transgender.
“This is against the 2014 NALSA Judgement and yogyaKarta Principles.
The bill violates International Human Right laws to choose your own gender”
3. Lack of Gender Specific Laws (Marriage Laws, Adoption Laws, Inheritance laws. etc).
In India, we do have a lot of Laws that are gender specific. When a bill of this order that is being drafted for a gender minority, it is vital that these laws are redefined. Failure to define any gender specific laws clearly portrays that the bill is being drafted for a cultural minority than a Gender Minority.
Will the laws that apply to a gender (male or female) will also be applicable to people who choose to live in that gender role ?
4. Penalties for offences against Transgenders.
The bill includes a separate section on offences against transgender people. The Penalties listed in this section state a maximum of 2 years of imprisonment for any offence against a transgender person. This offence list includes offences like Endangering a transgender person’s life or rape or bonded labour (forced begging and sex work) etc.
Here the bill is doing the opposite of what it should do. It provides milder punishment for offences against a vulnerable community instead of protecting that community.
It also results in ridiculous juridical consequences. Which modern society is writing new bills to limit the rape penalty to 2 years imprisonment?
“Max penalty for endangering a person’s life is two years??”
According to THE BONDED LABOUR SYSTEM (ABOLITION) ACT, 1976
“Punishment for enforcement of bonded labour.-Whoever, after the commencement of this Act, compels any person to render any bonded labour shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees. ”
Practices of bonded labour in the form of organized begging and organized sex work should be abolished. By reducing the penalty of maximum imprisonment term from 3 years to 2 years, The new Transgender Bill only promotes bonded Labour.
The motive and intention of the Not A Hijra campaign was not to induce hatred towards any Indigenous Cultural Transgender community, but to include ourselves too in the bill. We regret for any unintentional hurt caused by the “Not A Hijra” photo campaign. We are invisible and our voices are being silenced. By saying “I am Not A Hijra”, we reaffirm our Identity, make our existence felt and request the Ministry of social justice and welfare to look beyond the Indigenous Cultural Transgender communities of India.