TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY IN INDIA: RIGHTS, CHANCES, AND CHALLENGES
Updated: Aug 21
AUTHOR: ALIZAA ZAIDI
In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "I am who I am, so I accept who I am." Similarly, philosophers once said, “No one will escape their individuality.”
Self-expression is one of the most important and necessary aspects of a person's existence. However, in India, the self-expression of the LGBTQ community was rejected under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860.
The life of the LGBTQ community in India changed on September 6, 2018, because the Supreme Court of India passed judgment on relations between persons of the same sex. After all it legalized section 377 of the Penal Code of India, 1860.¹After years of struggle social and discrimination, the LGBTQ community is today. Freedom may exist because the prohibition of homosexual relations was legalized in colonial times. However, the problem does not end there. Legal restrictions have been proposed, but social restrictions still exists in most Indian societies and cultures. In the past, transgender people have been discriminated against by society in areas such as personal employment, education, and health care.
In today's world, this debate and the changes in thought, mindsets, and laws that follow have become more important than ever. Transgender people are also individuals, so they are legally equivalent; however, this must be done in the mind of the individual. One obvious way is to make amendments within the system to provide the remaining rights of transgender people facing discrimination, marriage, adoption, and divorce are just a few of the necessary aspects of daily life. The laws and society that exist in logic should not continue to rely on social discrimination and taboos of certain groups².
Who is a transgender person?
People who don’t adapt their identity as compared to their gender by birth are transgender people³. Transgender people refer to "people whose gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth, but are intersex variants and gender queer people." They are people who are born with male or female anatomy, but because their gender expression, identity or behaviour is different from their birth sex, they feel that their body structure is different.
In India, there is a wide range of identities related to transgender people, including Hijras, Aravanis, Kothis, Jogtas / Jogappas, Shiv Sakthis. In the past, they have received great respect. "Hijra" is a Persian word translated as eunuch and is used as the common language of the transgender community in India. Castration mode. Kothi is used to play female roles in same-sex relationships, but not people who live in communes like Aravanis. Jogtas / Jogappas found in Maharashtra and Karnataka is male to female transgender people who are dedicated to serving specific gods. Shiv Shakti’s found in Andhra Pradesh is a man who thinks he is married to a god, especially Shiva. They usually work as psychotherapists or astrologers.
Challenges faced by transgender people:
1.Discrimination: The transgender community faces tremendous discrimination and the differences are in education, employment, justice, media and entertainment, politics, business opportunities, religion, and medical care.
2. Disrespect: Transgender people are disrespected in almost every aspect of their lives. Whether in public or in private, they have received a lot of humiliation and verbal harassment: when on the street or returning to auspicious occasions, they will always stay away from the social team and are born for outing parties.
3. Oppressed: There are a large number of transgender people in India, but they are still a minority in society. This is usually because India’s large non-queer population frustrates them and prevents them from moving forward and making progress in society. Although transgender people have different abilities and skills that they can use wisely, they are oppressed by a large part of society and turned into hiding and social imprisonment⁴.
4. The Kidnapping of children: Some violent teams of transgender people look for young people who are born transgender and kidnap these young people to promote them in the community. Although they consider it well-intentioned, it admits stereotypes and terrible taboos that discriminate against them.
5. Prostitution: Transgender people are forced to join the industry by their friends, family, relatives, and the transgender community itself in exchange for cash. Since his professional aspect does not exist, his only source of economic income is reduced to begging and/or prostitution.
6. Forced to leave their parent’s home: Transgender people are forced to leave their parents' home by their parents and relatives due to their status and social pressure. Once again a great humiliation, they are forced to accept their birth gender identity or are left on the Street to earn a living.
7. Refusal of entry: Transgender people are prohibited from entering religious places, hotels, restaurants, etc. This type of discrimination is criminalized by law, but shopkeepers, hotel managers, and religious priests always believe that it is in their interests to avoid transgender people’s place. They believe that if transgender people appear in a certain area, the public will try to avoid it and stay away from them because of obvious stereotypes.
8. Rape, verbal and physical abuse: Transgender people are more likely to experience verbal and physical abuse in society than anyone else. Due to their unique sexual orientation, transgender people are ridiculed and abused in their appearance and behaviour. They often face verbal harassment on the street and also receive physical and sexual harassment in dangerous and vulnerable situations.
9. Lack of educational facilities: In some cases, when children dare to reveal transgender to their peers and family members, they face so much emotional and mental trauma due to stereotypes, that they eventually decide to abandon go to school or college to avoid stress.
10. STDs and HIV AIDS: Men who have sex with men suffer from a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. Most transgender people are illiterate. Due to a lack of education, they cannot seek proper medical care.
11. Human trafficking: The human trafficking market remains a major problem in almost all parts of the world; women are trafficked and sold as brides in countries with large gender differences. In this type of unethical transaction, transgender people are sold for prostitution and entertainment purpose, which further amplifies the physical and mental abuse they face in life.
12. Social exclusion: transgender people are generally excluded from society and are not allowed to participate in the social, cultural, and economic affairs of society. As individuals, transgender people are usually creative and intelligent people, and respect everyone, regardless of their gender identity.
The fundamental rights of transgender people in India
1. Article 14: Article 14 of the Indian Constitution protects the right to equality and equal protection. The law does not discriminate in any way⁵.
2. Article 15: Article 15 stipulates that the state has an obligation to protect people from discrimination based on religions, races, classes, genders, and places of birth⁶.
3. Article 19: All Indian citizens have freedoms of speech, peaceful assembly and freedom without weapons, freedoms to live and settle in any part of Indian Territory, and freedom to engage in any occupation. Or engage in any profession, trade or business⁷.
4. Article 21: The rule of law in the Indian legal system protects the right to life and personal freedom⁸.
5. Challenging 377: Under section 377, it has been pointed out that although it is related to specific sexual acts; it emphasizes certain identities, including Hijras. It also acknowledges that section 377 has been used as a tool for the physical harassment and abuse of Hijras, a transgender person.
1. Navtej Singh Johor v Union of India AIR 2018 SC 4321.
2. Justice (Retd) K S Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1.
3. Alina Bradford - Live Science Contributor, What Does 'Transgender' Mean? https://www.livescience.com/54949- transgender- definition.html.
4. Arun Kumar v. The Inspector General of Registration W.P. (MD) NO. 4125 OF 2019 AND W.M.P. (MD) NO. 3220 OF 2019.
5. Article 14. Equality before Law, Constitution of India.
6. Article 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, Constitution of India.
7. Article 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc., Constitution of India.
8. Article 21. Protection of life and personal liberty Constitution of India