With unchanging social attitudes, an archaic law and never ending administrative hassles, the SC verdict has meant little for the comunity

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 05:30
Shraddha Dhulap One year has passed since the landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of India (SC), which recognised transgender people as the third gender. But many in the community say that implementation of provisions has been slow and the categorisation has actually created a backlash. Some transgender people The News Minute spoke to said that benefits such as reservation have not taken into effect and they still face harassment on a daily basis. On April 14, 2014, the SC passed a judgement stating that transgender individuals would now be recognised as the third gender. The judgement also mentioned provision of education, jobs, health services, social welfare schemes, reservations and a strict action against those who subjected any member of this community to any kind of injustice or discrimination. The SC gave the Union and State governments six months for the implementation of the clauses mentioned in the judgement. But Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist claims that governments have been inefficient in the implementation as there has been no proper allocation of funds. Akkai Padmashali “For years the society has considered our community as a social stigma. This has always stopped them from coming forward and expressing how they feel,” Akkai said. She also added that, “Following the sex operation, we used to get a gender certificate. This made it easier for us to have a proof for any kind of documentation. Some hospitals have stopped providing these certificates.” However Ranjitha, a self-identified transsexual person who resides in Bangalore and is a member of Ondede organisation said that she finds the categorisation offensive. “What is a third gender? We would like to be recognised as either a male or a female, as per our preference. The moment you classify us as a third gender, that’s where the discrimination starts,” she said. Ranjitha also said that the reservation provided to them was not practical: “The government has allocated 1% reservation to transgender people for postgraduation in the education sector. How do we benefit from that, when most of us are forced out of schools as a kid?” Rakshita, another transgender person from Bangalore said that on occasions when she has been harassed, she has found it difficult to file a complaint. “Most of the times, the police turned a deaf ear to our problems. But these days we carry the judgement along with us; this leaves them with no option.” But for Rakshita, that is the least of her worries. She still faces obstacles in gaining employment. “After the judgement I have tried to get a job in at least 30 companies. But they are reluctant to hire me and this is mostly because of my physical appearance. Just because I don’t look like what I claim to be, like a woman. They hesitate to give me a job. Irrespective, I am willing to put all my efforts to learn and do any work. They ask me to wait and never revert. This has to change,” she said. Uma , a transgender person and the founder of the NGO Jeeva said that having Section 377, which criminalises gay sex, doesn’t help their case either. Uma She said, “I am not just a human being, who portrays a feminine character, but I am also a sexual being and I have sexual desires for which I demand my privacy. I want to have a sexual relation with a man, but Section 377 does not permit this. Then what’s the point in recognising me as a gender, when I do not have the right to choose my partner.” Gauthaman Ranganathan, a human rights lawyer claimed that there was lack of awareness. Many people did not know about the judgement and he always recommends that transgender people have a copy of it on them. Gauthaman also mentioned that the judgement clearly stated that, one could claim their identity on the basis of self-identification, and insisting any kind of medical tests was illegal. “Still it is happening in most of the places. Hence it is important that both people from the community and outsiders are aware of the judgement”, he said. “The judgment surely acts as a weapon for the transgenders to claim their rights, yet the struggle still continues.” Uma said that while the judgment was the step in the right direction, concrete action needs to be taken to ensure the community doesn’t continue to be a victim of social oppression and injustice. “How do they plan to bring about a development,” she said. “They should at least provide us our basic needs.”