Unfinished Business for Transgenders in India
Today, it is two years since the historic Supreme Court of India NALSA judgment, which acknowledged transgenders and Hijras of India as Third Gender, thus giving legal recognition to this key population. The atmosphere was celebratory, with dancing and music, as transgenders and the larger LGBT supporters, who were instrumental in making this dream come true, felt the light of hope!
When the fight for transgender rights started and the NALSA judgment was announced, the Trans people across India celebrated not just their legal existence, but the acknowledgement of their dignity! Today, I am proud to see changes and achievements in the lives of transgenders as they foray into different journeys, such as becoming the principal of a women’s college, enrolling in law enforcement services, winning elections etc. This has been possible because of this momentous judgment.
In last two years, Trans men in India also have become visible, with the Trans men movement coming out very strongly. One important accomplishment was the active participation of civil society and other stakeholders. Programmes like Pehchan reached more than 50,000 transgender in India. National AIDS Control Organization conducted its first hijra mapping and reached 75,000 high risk transgender hijra women in 18 Indian states. ‘Rights of the Transgender Bill, 2015’ was discussed openly, with support from the Astitva Trust. The issue of Tran’s employment is being led by various organizations. Humsafar Trust has closely engaged with the corporate sector to ensure equal opportunity within the mainstream society. The first Trans band has also come into the existence under the Yash Raj banner.
The work is yet to be finished. Lamentably, the Indian government has largely failed to provide concrete legal protection, schemes and policy support in these last two years. It is crucial that positive steps such as reservation in jobs, Trans’ entrepreneurship, and social service linkages are promoted. Intensive effort should be instituted to curb ongoing violence, harassment and discrimination towards transgender people. The Government Departments should be forthcoming in addressing the needs of the community, with political will being the underlying factor. State transgender welfare boards need to be established. It is important that the community unites and in one voice advocate transgender rights, including rights to marriage, adoption, employment, stigma free life and dignity!
I, an Indian transgender individual, dream for a better tomorrow for the transgenders of India. We, as parts of the Indian transgender community, need to join hands with each other to ensure this better tomorrow. I urge the current Government of India and forthcoming government parties to emphasize transgender health and welfare. I believe and hope that I will get the respect and dignity within the society, and Good Days (Acche Din) will be here to stay for me and all my transgenders friends and families!
The author of this post, Abhina Aher, is a committed Transgender activist and serves as Programme Manager: Pehchan and Wajood at India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi.