Transgender activists Akkai Padmashali, Sreekutty and Shyama S. Prabha at 'Beyond the Binary', event in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. (Photo: A.V.MUZAFAR )
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sunday’s papers carried a disheartening piece of news for transgender persons – that the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment rejected the recommendations of a parliamentary standing committee regarding the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill. Akkai Padmashali, an activist who was part of the committee which drafted Karnataka’s transgender policy, was yet to come to terms with it, as she spoke to DC on Monday.
She was in Thiruvananthapuram to attend ‘Beyond the Binary’, an event organised on Day of Transgender Remembrance by Helping Hands Organisation, an NGO, with the support of Queerhtyhm, an organisation for LGBTIQ. The rejected report by the parliamentary committee had proposed that the Bill must recognise civil rights such as marriage, divorce and adoption. It noted that IPC 377 put transgender persons at the risk of criminalisation. "It is so, ridiculous, annoying and unfortunate that the Bill does not decriminalise transgender persons. They are criminalising an entire community. Moreover, marriage is a basic civil right. I am an adult, and if I consent to have sex, what is the problem?" she said.
The committee noted in its report that the Bill defines transgender persons "based on the underlying assumption of biological determinism". Akkai said, "I am a woman, and I need not have female genitalia." She said that the Bill gives more power to the police department and their right to mobility will be curbed. "You would not be able to leave from Bengaluru to Malleshwaram, without informing the police. It is unacceptable in the largest democracy in the world, a free country," she said. "Our lives were difficult before. It will become worse now."