I celebrated Independence Day on April 15 this year when we were given the status of a ‘third gender’ in a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court,” transgender rights activist, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi told Deccan Herald on August 15. “Our community got a legal recognition but socially we are still excluded. Even government is not ready to recognise us. After the judgement, none of the ministry contacted us. Nothing has changed as we are still facing the atrocity of the society.”
Such is status of transgenders in our community. As they cope with the worst each day, the latest objections raised by the Narendra Modi-led government on the historic judgement that granted constitutional recognition to them as a third gender and, gave them the right to have a family, has added more pain to their agony.
“When the SC verdict was given the whole media was there at our centre. Now, that judgement is being questioned by the central government. So why nobody is ready to raise objection to it?” questions Anjan Joshi, executive director, Zeenat Club.
The club is a part of Society for Peoples' Awareness, Care & Empowerment (SPACE), an organisation that works on health and human rights-related issues of the LGBT
“We are all very disappointed with this stance of the government. After years of struggle and advocacy the verdict based on basic human rights was delivered by the Supreme Court, which was progressive and just. Why was this judgement singled out and questioned? The government did not bother to question the controversial and unjust Section 377 Judgement of the SC but this one! Strange!” says Joshi.
“The transgender community members who celebrated the judgement and held their head high, got the confidence to talk to their family members, they started hoping to gain some benefits in education, employment and social security, but all hopes are shattered,” he says.
According to Joshi perhaps the authorities want some more clarity about understanding the transgender community. “Transgender is a gender identity and not about sexual orientation. This is understood by all. There are trans-man (female to male) and trans-woman (male to female) and Hijras. What else does the government wishes to know?” asks Joshi.
Twenty-two-year-old Malika, who brimmed with confidence when the verdict was passed, feels to ‘have returned to square one, where life is all dark’.
“I was happy that I could study and get into a good job. My parents were happy too. It was an important judgement for them too,” says Malika, who does not stay with her family.
She is disgruntled at the way the judgement is being dealt with. “The judgement for which clarifications has been sought, if implemented, could have raised our standards socially and educationally. I had to face harassment when I applied for admission in colleges. I don’t know how we should prove ourselves,” Malika, says grimly.
Reiterating similar views, Prema, who is a eunuch says, “It feels like nobody is interested in giving us the right to live. I survive on money collected during functions or else I have to beg on roads. Whatever we earn the police asks for commission in that too.” The 23-year-old has lost all hope that she will have better life one day.