Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM

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Programme in Development Management

Sex: Male / Female (circle only one): Transgenders in Contemporary India

At railway stations, bus stations, public places, and sometimes on trains we encounter some people who approach us saying “Bhaiya, give me ten rupees” or even more rudely, “Oye, take out some money.” Generally, we get scared and try to escape from such people. If it is not possible to escape, then we give them some money along with many verbal abuses. We know that they are also human beings, so why are we afraid of them and why do we abuse them? Why do they keep begging and asking for money even after been abused? These are the problems faced by transgenders today. Most people do not bear any compassion for them; others hate them.

Why are transgenders discriminated against at every stage of their life starting from their birth? If parents come to know that their child is a transgender, they throw him out. [Editor’s note: Even our language does not have pronouns to adequately accommodate transgenders, as reflected in the previous sentence.] In such circumstances, the basic facilities like food and housing become serious issues for the child. Discrimination against them starts from their home and continues in the society at various places such as railway stations, hospitals, police stations, educational institutions, and at all government support systems. In applications for admittance into schools, colleges, or hospitals there are only two options of entering one’s sex: male and female. A transgender is not acknowledged by most such systems. Again, medical science recognises only the two popular sexes of males and females. This creates problems for the transgender people, as they do not belong to either group. For example, most health insurance providers demand that all consumers must identify themselves as either male or female and there have been reports that the healthcare system in our country, both public and private, routinely declines service to the transgendered people, solely because they are transgenders. In this situation, transgenders avoid going to hospitals. They are sometimes regarded as dirty and at other times, untouchable.

Transgenders are also denied of many facilities from the State such as ration cards, voter identity cards, basic amenities, shelter, and property rights. They lack the support of society and often face violence by the police. Their prime concern is to get alternative employment, but this is very difficult. It can be generalised that it is out of the question for a transgender to secure a regular and respectable job in the current scenario. It is not because they lack the skills and capabilities, but because organisations are not open to employing transgenders.

Since they are denied of all rights, discriminated at all places, and do not get a regular employment, they face many problems. Hence, they are forced to beg or work as commercial sex workers. Whose mistake is it? Is it the mistake of the transgender, of our society, or the almighty? Nature made them transgender, but society has made them into beggars and sex workers. The inclination of the transgender community towards commercial sex as an income generation activity has increased the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which have no cure. Is not the curse given by the mainstream society to the transgender ultimately backfiring? Perhaps the mainstream society needs to take some time to realise their mistake and take corrective actions.

Mallesham Edla, PDM 10

Editorial Committee’s Note: Mainstream society, the State, and other institutions need to begin to acknowledge the existence of transgenders and modify the procedures in their favour. This issue can be approached in a three way process: increasing the acceptance of transgenders in society and institutions, the behaviour modification of transgenders in public places, and favourable legal measures. To begin with, the State should accommodate the concerns of transgender community in all procedures such as application forms and ensure equal treatment in all institutions for education, health, justice, recreation, and employment. This should be followed by countrywide seminars and discussions in educational institutions and academic bodies over the changes to be adopted by the mainstream society. This would hopefully fuel a breeze of change of people’s attitude. Additionally, the transgender community should develop their code of conduct in public places. They deserve respect and compassion like every human being. A transgender should have all rights available to you and me. KBP

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Filed under: PDM 10, Spectrum, ,

2 Responses

  1. shanti211087 says:

    Mallesham sir,

    You have tried to give the real picture of this clandestine issue. In our society people ignore to talk about trans gender. If we see the livelihood situation of this group really it is vulnerable.This section of society is marginalized by the government and common people.Your article gives lead to think on these issues.

  2. Ananda Mahto says:

    In today’s Hindu… April 15 is Tamil Nadu’s “Transgenders Day”.

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