Lok Sabha passes Transgender Persons Bill with 27 changes

The Lok Sabha passed the Bill to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under the law through a voice vote on Monday, even as Opposition parties continued to create a ruckus in the House over the Rafale deal and Cauvery dispute.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, was passed with 27 amendments introduced by the government. The amendments suggested by Opposition members were rejected.

New definition:

The amendments passed include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female or wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.

According to the new definition, a transgender person is somebody “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani, and jogta”.

The Bill aims to stop discrimination against a transgender person in various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare. It also directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.

The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.

Several civil society groups have been vocal about their opposition to the Bill  The Bill disregards many of their suggestions as also some of the crucial points raised by the standing committee report of July 2017.

This includes the right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee.

The panel had also pointed out that the Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.

The bill has prescribed punishments for organised begging. However, the Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.

The Transgender Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender persons as according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.

The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

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