On the 18th of April 2020, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment uploaded the draft of the ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules 2020’ on their website for the general feedback on the rules. As per the Legislative procedure, The draft rules have to be in the public domain for feedback for at least 30 days. But instead, the deadline set for submitting feedback was 30th of April. The government was questioned on the violation of legislative procedure rules amidst a pandemic by various community members and organizations. After which the government revised the deadline to 18th May 2020. We asked a few transgender people & activists what do they feel about the draft rules and the strict deadline amidst a pandemic.

“When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed at the end of World War II, In 1945, could one have expected cherries, flowers, and apple trees to blossom the very next day? When the very ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights)’ law itself is so regressive, repressive, and unconstitutional. When the foundation of the law defrauds transgender persons, we can’t expect anything good coming out of it. Hoping to get it changed by sending the feedback is nothing but a waste of time.  Initially, they uploaded the incomplete set of rules for general feedback on 18th April with a deadline of 30th April. When the issue was raised that as per the prelegislative procedure, they have to put that on public domain for review and feedback for at least 30 days, that’s when they extended it now to the 18th of May, which is just another eyewash. Significant portions of the law like transgender counseling, punitive actions against those who perpetrate violence against trans people, remanding transgender persons to rehabilitation homes, have not even been covered in the rules yet. These rules are so incomplete set of rules and do not cover the whole law. But these are all non-issues because what is the point of raging against the rules when the parent law is so draconian. However, it only gives me hope to eventually challenge this in the court further as the bench may not have the pretext of calling our worries premature, for the rules now stand part framed & will in time be fully framed.”

Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli (Trans Activist, CO-FOUNDER of the Telangana  Hijra INTERSEX Transgender Samiti)

The Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act was enacted with a view to providing for the protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. But form the day the bill was presented in the parliament, it has been causing huge disruption among the community members and activists, for its numerous flaws and faults in regard to understanding the needs of transgender people. The provisions of the said Act came into force on 10th January 2020.

“The draft rules to the transgender persons’ (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 are extremely disappointing, to say the least. The rules do not even cover all the sections of the Act. The fact that the response on the draft rules has been sought during the time of a pandemic induced nationwide lockdown goes against the principles of democracy and transparency. How are we supposed to reach out to trans persons who wish to send inputs when many are even struggling for bare survival & mobility is severely restricted? The rules reaffirm & further the Act’s prejudices- applying with an intention to falsely claim transgender status means ‘criminal prosecution’. Who is the state to judge anyone as trans or not? With what authority? What’s the purpose of saying self-identification when the criminal justice system can be unleashed like this? It perpetuates the idea that we have ‘fake cases’, an implicit license to police trans individuals saying it’s for our own ‘safety’. Even if so, what’s the need for criminal law? Why not civil remedies? Should we incarcerate everyone who we don’t agree with? Even then, there is already IPC provisions, why state separately in the rules? It’s a continuing pattern from the Act, wherein bonded labor which is already covered under a gender-neutral Act is specifically mentioned here.”

Ray Kanmani – Law Students, Trans Activist

For the unconstitutionality of the Trans-Act, it is already being challenged in the supreme court petitioned by 2 different parties; Advocate and Trans-Activist: Swati Bidhan Baruah and Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), while Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy also took a stand in court for NALSA, and Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) has also filed a case before Karnataka High Court for protecting transgender persons during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Recently there was an HIV-positive transgender woman in Mumbai who committed suicide by hanging herself. Since she had lost her source of livelihood because of lockdown, she could not fulfill her essential need for food and medical supplements. This shows how afflicted our trans community is at the moment trying to make both ends meet. Even the process of submitting the suggestions is not a piece of cake, it is only accessible and understandable by the trans people who have the privilege of education, communication, and political awareness. The majority is more concerned about surviving each day rather than spending hours, finding ways to submit our responses to something that lays upon the foundation of a miserable act. When we had sent the appeal letter addressing these issues, they disdained it by extending the deadline, rather than doing something for the trans community which is highly affected during this corona outbreak and lockdown. Right now the transgender people in India are more affected by lack of resources to stay alive, then paying attention to the rules which further devastate our lives with the implementation of this dictatorial Act. We don’t know how many suicide cases are more to take place, caused by the current situation.”

– Grace Banu (Dalit and Transgender Activist)

You can download the full copy of the Draft “The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules,2020 here


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