Kerala, smashing all stereotypes and prejudices flat in the face, has unveiled a transgender policy, becoming the first state in India to do so. Kerala goes on to be the only state in India to treat Transgenders as they are-humans, and not aliens. The policy aims to give 25,000 transgender people in the state a platform to eventually be able to demand a right to equality, dignity, development and expression, the government says. “We hope this policy will help us in getting transgenders formal education, employment and more. In Kerala, most of them are seen begging and or being forced into the sex market,” Mr MK Muneer told NDTV.
Basically, the policy aims to give transgenders basic rights, necessary for human existence; Something that they shouldn’t have had to fight to get in the first place.
This will hopefully enable transgenders to obtain non-discriminatory access to education with scholarships and ensure equal access in social security, public transport, and health. It will also help them avail other social and economic opportunities and resources and services.It will give them right to equal treatment under the law and the right to live life without violence. Government departments will be required to take action if transgenders are harassed for cross-dressing or for gender-specific behaviour. It will give them the right to breathe.
The Department of Social Justice will oversee the implementation of the policy. It will have Social Justice secretary as its Member-Secretary and secretaries of various departments as members. This body will also conduct a mid-term evaluation of the policy implementation and results in 2018.
“This is a watershed…a very important event. For a long time, transgenders have not received their due in the state’s developmental framework…we may be the first state in the country to have a rights-based policy on transgenders,” Thomson said.
Dr M K Muneer, Social Justice and Panchayats Minister, said the policy would ensure complete freedom of expression and the right to participate in the state’s decision-making process to transgenders.
Although, we still have a little thorn on the rose. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a law introduced in the 19th Century that that the Supreme Court in 2013 refused to strike down, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, questionably including homosexual acts.
Since Section 377 deems any sexual activity that cannot produce a baby as “unnatural” and punishable, transgender people can be subjected to persecution under the law, activists say.
As part of its initiative, Kerala government hopes to introduce separate gender columns for transgender people in all government forms for jobs, as their next step. In a first, a block exclusively to house transgenders is coming up in a high security prison in Thrissur in an effort to protect their privacy and human rights.
Although it does not go into the details, Kerala’s TG policy (the first of its kind) does promise some far reaching measures, such as the:
- Inclusion of TG as a third gender in all government related forms
- Creation of a TG Justice Board under the Department of Social Justice
- Providing free legal aid to transgenders
Let’s just hope that other states follow suit. We need to realise the being a TransGender is as far from being unnatural as it can get.