What is it like to be transgender in India? Life of transgenders in India.
Transgenders in India – Introduction
Life of Transgenders in India– Some men are born in their bodies and others have to fight for it! Wondering what am I talking about here? I am talking about the third gender, as in today’s modern era, there are people who believe that the third identity that is “transgender” are considered as taboo.
In this article, I will not talk about their ill-treatment or sympathize. Neither I will talk about the journey of acceptance which still has to reach its destination. Being trans takes guts because you have to do things no one else understands. To become who you really are and that’s brave and yes that is the struggle of acceptance in the society.
Who is a “transgender”?
It is a term which is described for those people, whose gender identity or expression does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
In India, people are categorized on the basis of their caste, class, religion and gender (male/female) but the question here arises is, why? Transgenders face struggles, rejection and discrimination which are not at all justified. As I have mentioned above, we are not here to sympathize with them, I will rather be their voice and speak for them. Sometimes, the people around you will not understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.
Some people think that determining who is male or female at birth is a simple matter of checking the baby’s external anatomy, but there is actually a lot more to it. Gender transition looks different for every person, possible steps in a gender transition may or may not include changing your clothing, appearance etc
Why is Transgender equality important?
Transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else. They should be able to live and be respected according to their gender identity. They must have equal right in making a decision as others do. Gender equality is a human right and it is not a right to be born on a male body or a female body. It is a “Human Right” living without fear of discrimination and violence and being affirmed in being who they are. Gender equality society is a society where everyone’s position is the same and respected where gender doesn’t exist anymore. “Don’t call transgender people mentally ill if you believe a man in the cloud loves you unconditionally but under certain conditions?” they say “I am not trapped in my body I am trapped in other people perception in my body”.
Struggles of the Transgenders in India.
On 15th April 2014, the Supreme Court legally recognized transgender individuals as a third gender. Accordingly, the Court recognised that persons belonging to the third gender were entitled to fundamental rights under the Constitution and under International law. Further, state governments were directed to develop mechanisms to realise the rights of “third gender”/ transgender persons. This included:
- To make provisions for the legal recognition of “third gender” in all the documents
- Recognition of third gender people as a “socially and educationally backward class of citizens”, entitled to reservations in educational institutions and public employment.
- To take steps for framing social welfare schemes for the community
According to the Transgender People (Protection of Rights) Act,2019, Parliament of India
“Transgender’, refers to and includes all individuals whose gender does not conform or match with the gender assigned to them at birth and includes trans-man and trans-woman (whether or not they need undergone sex reassignment surgery (‘SRS’) and individuals with socio-cultural identities like ‘kinner’, ‘hijra’, ‘aravani’ and ‘jogta’.
Before the British reign in India, transgenders were revered and respected within the society. However, as a result of the moral codes enacted, anything that was perceived as “immoral”, “unclean” and didn’t conform to the heteronormative standards of society was declared illegal. Even Section 377 was declared to make illegal any “unnatural offences” that were deemed “against the order of nature”.
Life of transgenders in India after the ‘act’
However, even after the judgement in 2014, transgender people across the country continue to face social, economic, medical discrimination. Although it has been years, we continue to discriminate against transgenders. Families may disown children who are identified as transgenders and forced to leave their home. Often, they run away to hunt refuge within the community under the guidance of a guru who runs households referred to as “gharanas”.
Moreover, there is a lack of enforcing strict protection and anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. As a result, many transgender people are left with no other option, but to resort to begging, dancing and prostitution. Thanks to the scarcity of economic opportunities in workplaces. They often get threats of getting attacked and facing violence. Even from police officers for offences such as begging or prostitution.
Lack of medical support
The transgender community also struggles to find adequate medical support when required. Basic medical aid may be denied on the grounds of their gender. In a study conducted, the Civilian Welfare Foundation discovered that a majority of doctors are not educated on gender identity issues and a transphobic stigma is ingrained amongst medical professionals. This resulted in a lack of proper medical care and attention for transgenders. The transgender people are also vulnerable to ill-treatment or harm from medical practitioners.
The hope of empowerment
The transgender community also gained another victory with the decriminalization of Section 377. Sathyasri Sharmila recently became India’s first transgender lawyer. Joyita Mondal became India’s first transgender judge. Prithika Yashini became the first transgender police officer. Manabi Bandopadhyay became the primary transgender college principal of Krishnagar Women’s College on June 7, 2015. Shabnam Mausi contested elections from Sohagpur constituency in district Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh to become an MLA. While these are just a few examples of the strides some transgender people have made, we have a significant way to go as a country before we can proudly say that we treat everyone equally.
Their struggle has given a massive result on 17th august 2015, where the union of India declares transgenders as the third gender. Affirmed, that the fundamental rights granted under the constitution of India will be equally applicable to them. And give them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or the third gender. It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in the job and in the field of education with other minorities as well. According to one estimate India has about 2 million transgender people in India. They are forced to choose either male, or female as their gender.
Tolerance, acceptance and understanding – The three magic words
Tolerance means “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry”.
Acceptance in human psychology is “a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.”
Understanding is “a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message, whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.”
I personally believe that these three magic words one should practice every day. The more we practice them, society becomes a better place to live in.
Accepting a human being with his/her strengths or weaknesses is a big thing. Let us all come together and accept and understand each other with all the love and respect.
34% of trans people attempt suicide.
64% of young trans people are bullied.
73%of trans people are harassed in public [Ranging from insults to physical abuse.]
21% of trans people avoid going out in public due to fear.
No matter whatever the gender is, everyone being the citizen of the country should have respect for each other.
Read about the Importance of Mental Health.