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'Despite SC order, transgenders still feel discriminated'

‘Despite SC order, transgenders still feel discriminated’

Transgenders continue to face social exclusion and find it difficult to get official documents including ID cards even after the landmark Supreme Court verdict recognising the ‘third gender’, participants at a recent conference said.

Several participants said the apex court verdict of April 15 last year was not being implemented in several states and felt that the society still misunderstood transgenders. Activists and members of the transgender community from 18 states and neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh participated in the two-day National Consultation on the Rights of Gender Minority and Gender Variant People in India, organised at Sonepat in Haryana recently by Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) and Pehchan Programme of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Many transgender representatives said it was “almost impossible” for them to obtain identity papers and other official documents like Aadhar or ration cards and passports, and most of the cases came from states like Delhi, Jharkhand, Gujarat and West Bengal, a JGLS release said. According to Laxmi Tripathi, one of the intervenors in the landmark NALSA case in which the Supreme Court has created the ‘third gender’ status for transgenders, expressed disappointment over the non-implementation of the verdict in several states.

“Despite getting recognition by the SC in 2014, we still do not have rights,” Tripathi was quoted as saying. Qasim Iqbal, Executive Director of Pakistan-based Naz Male Health Alliance, explained that although Pakistan Supreme Court has recognised the third gender category, there were still issues to be resolved, the release said.

Anonnya Banik, a transgender member associated with Dhaka-based Bandhu Social Welfare Society, gave specific examples of discrimination by doctors, police officers and others and said, “we face discrimination everywhere”. Bhumika Shreshta from Blue Diamond Society of Nepal discussed the progress made in her country, including issuing of citizenship cards and construction of separate toilets.

Dipika Jain, executive director of Centre for Health, Law, Ethics and Technology at JGLS, said the consultation brought about 40 transgender state activists from 18 states on one platform to discuss the issues related to the community.

The participants felt that governmental delay in some cases was “not only frustrating” but also prevented them from accessing educational and employment opportunities, it said. Mention was also made at the conference of certain positive developments like implementation of government schemes like free sex reassignment surgery for transgenders in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.

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