First of all we are happy that government took some initiative for Transgender people. This June, Odisha government gave few social welfare benefits. The provisions given by the government will change many lives, but still there are few loop holes that need to be fixed which were not addressed by the government of India.
What are the new social welfare benefits for transgenders in Odisha ?
Members of the transgender community will get BPL cards along with following benefits.
- Free housing, pensions, loans to start up their own businesses and 100 days of paid work annually.
- According to the National food security Act government will provide, 5 kg of food grains every month.
How will the government identify the transgender people ?
Though we have a Laws regarding the identification from the transgender bill 2015, the identification protocol is not clear. People are confused regarding the rights of transgender person’s bill 2015, by Ministry of social justice and empowerment. If there is no clarity in the law, how can the benefits be used and who can claim the benefits?
Rights of transgender person’s bill 2015, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
What is self recognition in the Transgender bill?
Self recognition by transgender bill 2015 basically means recognizing one own gender. It entitles people the right to change gender in all the legal documents without any third party proof of gender Identity like Psychiatric evalution , hormonal regime or surgery. Recognizing oneself of being what they are and how do they identify themselves. How do other people recognize you is important but sometimes self-awareness is all that matters. It is entirely up to the individual’s perception of themselves. Positives in Self-knowing, It builds up the persons character and a clear idea of what they are.
how will a committee decides, what a person’s gender identity is? what would be the protocol for recognition ?
What are the problems associated with self recognition in india ?
Drawbacks of Transgender bill 2015 can be devastating, such as a con man disguising as transgender for benefits. If anyone can self-recognize, anyone can claim anything only to avail the benefits provided by the Government/NGO’s.
With benefits associated by being transgender the number of con identities and masqueraders can also increase. The rules in Transgender bill 2015 are not stringent enough to keep the con men in bay. Would that ensure efficient usage of Tax payer’s money? Free housing, pension and business loans, 5kg food grains per month etc. are cuts from a tax payer’s money that should not be abused by an imposter.
Self recognition is not a way to go when there are benefit or reservations and quotas involved. As we have seen so many communities fighting to get quotas in the past few years India, everyone wants to claim quotas. In such a situation, even a feminine gay guy who is no where transgender will be enticed to become transgender for qoutas. That would not be his true identity, but it would be a need of the hour. On the other hand there will also be con men who will claim trans identity for benefits.
Self recognition should never be tied with any monetary or reservation/ quota benefits. There should be only certain things a person can accomplish by self recognition. May be self- recognition can entitle a person rights to change their gender marker on educational certificates, identity cards, property rights etc.
Who are Masqueraders ?
Masqueraders are some lazy men who wear saree for easy money. These men leave their homes as men in the morning. Later dress up as a woman do their work (Begging/Sex work). And in the night go back home as a man. In other words they are jobless con men who want to earn some easy bucks. Men like these are seen around trains and traffic signals begging or doing sex work. These are imposters of the Hijra community. These imposters take advantage of benefits associated from being Hijra. According to the self-recognition policy of Transgender bill 2015, the government empowers these people to self recognize themselves and thereby conferrs them the benefits associated from being transgender.
Owning a transgender ID card for ulterior benefits is less humiliating than begging. Here, all that an imposter has to do is wear a salwar kameez on his visit to a government office for one day & claim to be a Trans person. After which he can live rest of his life as a cis-man and nobody would question him. He still can claim all the benefits offered to transgender people. The Transgender bill 2015 just provides the identification without a proper criteria or sections or rules.
Fate of transgender People other than Hijra community ?
If anyone can self-recognize, what about the Trans people who have acute gender dysphoria? They generally don’t want to come out the closet due to fear and shame. They are scared to face discrimination. How can government reach the people who live a secret life? Most people are ridiculed by friends and family. Most family and friends are not supportive because of the visible Hijra community. Trangender community has very few positive role models in open and public. Besides, the people who join the Hijra community are feminine children/adults who run away from their homes. Furthermore, Transgender people who do not want to be Hijra, don’t move out of their homes and do not join Hijra community.
Living conditions of the transgender individuals and the people in hijra community are pathetic and differs from one to other. Whom is the government providing benefits to? Men who wear sarees and do begging or to the actual Hijra community and the Transgender Individuals?
Will there be any punishment for masquerades if caught ?
When a masquerader is caught he and the Medical professional (if involved) who provided him/her the certification has to be Punished with serious consequences. How will it affect the practice of that medical professional . Transgender bill 2015 doesn’t touch this topic.
What is the right term to be used, Third gender or Transgender?
As Dr.Akkai padmashali asked who exactly 1st, 2nd & 3rd genders are. Man, women and the transgenders? In this sense, truly we live in a hierarchical misogynistic world. May be it’s easier for the world to identify the 1st and the 2nd genders based on the biological sex. But how does one recognize the so called 3rd gender? Is the cloths one wears the prime indicator of ones gender identity ? A person’s gender is beyond cloths and make up. A women is still a women even if she wears a jeans & a formal shirt, that doesn’t turn her into a “3rd gender”. Similarly a man is still a man even if he wears a Ghagra Choli and the gaudiest lipstick in the town. There exists a clears distinction between an individual’s personal style statement, Gender Expression & Gender Identity. Just because someone’s personal style or gender expression is different from the current norm, it doesn’t mean that they are transgender.
Why are the media houses so deranged with terminologies ?
Digital Journalism websites like Reuters and India Today are again misrepresenting the Rights of Transgender bill 2015, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Bill. This clearly depicts lack of Trans representation in their work spaces. May be they should hire some journalists from the Trans community.
Looking beyond the Hijra community
Even though there are various distinctions in the Hijra community customs, the diversity among their rituals and practices differ in their worships to their deity, all of them are considered as Hijra with different names in different regions. If a person has an Intersex condition and is from poor to middle class family, they join the Hijra community because of rejection from the society. Babies who are born with ambiguous genitalia are handed over to the Hijra community. Most parents feel disgraceful about such births. Some people raise their children regardless of their unclear genitalia. And very few listen to doctors suggestion and raise them with possible corrective surgeries The Success rate of such surgeries and medical gender guess work is highly debatable, with high failure rates .
Sadly it seems thats Transgender bill 2015 fails to look beyond the Hijra community. What about Trans men, post-op Transsexuals, pre-op transsexuals, intersex people etc
Example; The sex reassignment of David Reimer (Born as Bruce Reimer), in what later became known as the “John/Joan” case.
All of them end up feeling discouraged with their doctor-assigned sex. Most such children have a confused teenage and even suicidal tendencies. If Hijra is the only visible identity from the general perspective what about other identities such as Transsexuals, Gender Queer, Non Binary etc..,?
How to Identify Trangender people?
Classification is a way through which humans interpret the world they live in. Classification of cities in India are generally divided into Tier I and Tier II, up to Tier VI. Classification of States and Cities, Classification among Central Government posts / State Government posts. There are many classifications which government has developed. Why aren’t they classifying Transgender Identities? Why are they merging one with another with no proper classification protocol. If the Transgender bill 2015 can achieve to formulate a classification schema for the transgender umbrella, rationing the proposed benefits can keep the impostors away.
Conclusion: Politicians and the government cannot just form Transgender bill 2015 in a way that other people suffer. Decisions taken by them will affect so many people (Identities) under the umbrella term. The rules on the bill need to be reviewed and reorganized with proper rules. And most importantly, we the transgender people also do pay tax to our govt. How is the govt. safeguarding our hard earned money that we pay as tax?