The Transgender Person’s Bill was presented to the Lok Sabha earlier this year in hopes for better protection of the rights and welfare of the community. The bill addresses the specific issues of identification, discrimination, and inclusion of the transgender community in the larger society. Members of Ondede, along with allies from various different sections within the transgender community, gathered for a conference held on the 3rd of November to draft a set of suggested amendments to the bill. The key amendments suggested are as follows:

First, it asked for the term “transgender” to be redefined such that it does not flatten the transgender identity as one that is solely determined by biology, but rather reflects the multiplicity of socio-cultural identities within the community. Furthermore, it is suggested that a distinction be drawn between transmen and transwoman in determining legislation to ensure that the unique needs of each group are catered to; specifically, those of the transwoman given the additional societal pressures foisted on female persons.

Second, the report asks for family abuse to be made legible as a critical source of discrimination and harassment for transgendered individuals and asks for the concerned authorities to provide increased protection from the same. In a similar vein, the bill also asks for the criminalization of the sexual harassment and assault of transgendered persons (specifically assault excused by religion) to further protect individuals within the community.

Third, it is suggested that the instead of a District Screening Committee, a District Screening Commission be formed to lessen the complications involved in requiring a bureaucratic organization to sanction ones’ identity. In addition, it was asked that a time frame for issuing official certification be enacted as a binding standard to make the service readily accessible. On the National Level, the report suggests that a National Commission for Transgender Persons be formed as delineated in the Rights for Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, to ensure accountability within society.

This Bill is a crucial legislative tool for the transgender community and we sincerely hope that constructive discourse with the Standing Committee will lead to better legislation for the community in the near future.