The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently asked for comments from the five paramilitary or Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) on whether transgender persons can be inducted as combat officers. The five CAPFs are the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
Activist Grace Banu, the founder and director of the TransRightsNow Collective, said in a Facebook post that while she is delighted that the transgender community gets the opportunity to serve the nation, such gestures are merely tokenist.
“This is akin to handing over arms to a person who has lost all strength. We demand strength now, now arms,” she wrote.
Grace added that the government was trying to alienate trans persons by sending them to the border when they are trying to cross gender borders to become a member of their families.
“I say this not because we refuse to work at borders for our country. It is not because we are any less patriotic. We wish to go into families before going into borders. In doing so, we wish to become a part of this society. Only after that, we wish to stand in borders against our enemies and for our fellow human beings, our families and our society,” she added.
Grace said that the government, society and families are yet to break the images falsely constructed about their bodies.
“When a female soul tries to find its expression in a male body, the society chased us out of our families deciding that we are not fit for families. ‘They are not normal men or women like us’ the society taunted us and chased us to the fringes. The Indian government perhaps thinks we should rather stand in borders of this country than living on the borders of the society,” she said.
She referred to Babasaheb Ambedkar, who said that untouchables became untouchables because “we lost education, we lost land, we lost arms and we became slaves.”
She further added that the “third gender” was also attracted to Ambedkar’s ideals, but the reason for their downfall was that in addition to land, education and power, they also lost their families, “the institution which formed the basis for all these. By losing the families, we became slaves and untouchables.”
This is why, she said, the nation focussing on economic activities without achieving gender equality is akin to building a palace on a dung heap, referring to Ambedkar’s words.
“...we hope to be united with our families only by way of education and by way of accessing government positions. We are keen to enter into educational institutions, to enter into bureaucracy and judiciary. We only appeal not to send us and the youngsters of our community with similar aspirations to the borders. We shall come to the borders with weapons. But before that, help us join with our families,” Grace wrote.