Chennai: All of Chennai’s trans community on Friday gathered outside the Chennai Press Club to protest against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday. As they continuously cried “Don’t crush us!’, the community emphasises on how it is strange that a bill intended to establish the rights of a group of people manages, even after 27 amendments, to undermine those rights by ambivalent phrasing.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Delfina, a trans rights activist and member of LGBTQI+ rights advocacy NGO Nirangal, said that there was no clarity in the way the amendments were made.
“Our community has a problem with the way it was derived. We don’t want pity, we just want to be treated equally. The bill that DMK MP Tiruchy Siva brought in 2015 has been thrown out and a new, more problematic one has replaced it,” she says.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has not consulted anybody from the trans community, claimed the protesters. “The standing committee which the ministry appointed made a series of recommendations. It is a black day for us,” said Grace Banu, a transgender rights activist on her Facebook page. “We had conveyed our recommendations to the government. They did not even care for the suggestions made by Shashi Tharoor and Supriya Sule.”
In addition, they say the Bill violates the Supreme Court’s landmark National Legal Services Authority judgment of 2014 recognising the right of transgender persons to decide their self-identified gender.
It does not recognise the right to self-identification, as it defines a transgender person in binary terms.
“The bill says that trans people should not leave their homes until 18. There are so many people who leave their families due to oppression or because they are unable to express their identities, where will they all go?” Delfina asks.
There is also selective criminalisation. For instance, trans people are prohibited from begging. “Why will we beg if we are offered equal jobs and pay?” asks Defina as she also pointed out that it provides for a lower punishment for sexual violence against transgender persons, which will entail a maximum of only two years in jail as against seven years’ imprisonment in case of sexual assault on women.
The community requests that a discussion with the community be held where their voices are heard. “All we want is for the NALSA judgment to be upheld and our needs are voiced out before it goes to the Rajya Sabha” Defina concludes.
With inputs from Aaron Selvanadhan...