Opinion DC Comment 29 Nov 2019 Transcend identity b ...

Transcend identity barriers

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Nov 29, 2019, 12:51 am IST
Updated Nov 29, 2019, 12:51 am IST
Then there is the clause stipulating a two-year sentence only as punishment for transgender rape, and also no education or job quotas.
The last is a relief, not least because loss of that lifestyle would have meant a significant cultural loss — most often it represents the only means of livelihood available to these disenfranchised people.
 The last is a relief, not least because loss of that lifestyle would have meant a significant cultural loss — most often it represents the only means of livelihood available to these disenfranchised people.

There is not much to write home about the new transgender bill. Passed by Parliament on Tuesday, it is set to become a law soon but is a dud in terms of securing the rights of the citizens it proposes to protect. There have been two important improvements in its content, nonetheless, over the original 2016 format: (a) it no longer requires individuals to pass through a “screening committee” in order to self-identify as transgenders; it is now up to the district magistrate only to give or withhold that nod, and (b) it does not criminalise badhai (soliciting of gifts) and the guru-chela communes of the traditional hijra/kinnar/aravani/jogti groups. The last is a relief, not least because loss of that lifestyle would have meant a significant cultural loss — most often it represents the only means of livelihood available to these disenfranchised people. What is the chief bone of contention, however, between transgenders and the government — the bill was not referred to a standing committee as requested by some Opposition members — is that this requirement for validation from a district magistrate also exposes the person in question to societal coercion to conform and the threat of humiliation, besides being in complete breach of the Supreme Court’s 2014 Nalsa vs Union of India judgment which gives them the right to self-identification. Then there is the clause stipulating a two-year sentence only as punishment for transgender rape, and also no education or job quotas. Interestingly, it was a transgender association in Delhi which recently petitioned the Arvind Kejriwal government to outlaw surgery and hormone therapy for intersex children at the behest of their parents. If acted upon, it will reserve for the kids their right to sexual self-determination. Now, even the worst critics of queer theory — classical feminists who complain that it follows patriarchal stereotypes and modern conservatives who view it as an escape from society's pressure to perform, as well as doctors in the West who have been calling out the fad for gratuitous, irreversible medical interventions — won’t deny these two-spirits their rightful psychic completion.

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