New Delhi- The transgender community in the national capital can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Although a sizable population, they have long faced systemic exclusion in the country. The Delhi Government's Woman and Child Development Department is now taking proactive steps to rectify this injustice. These measures include the introduction of a 'third category' in job applications, the establishment of monitoring cells to combat abuse, and the implementation of sensitization programs, all aimed at integrating the transgender community into the societal mainstream.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued an advisory titled 'Ensuring the Welfare of Transgender Persons' to help include the community in mainstream society. The directions for the same came after the advisory. Taking a sympathetic look at the community, the Woman and Child Development Department released a circular discussing the different measures. These include setting up an 'Anti-Discrimination' cell for the people so they can report the inhumane transphobic abuse they face. The particular cell will have three members, out of which at least one should be a woman or a transperson. Any upcoming jobs from the Delhi government will include a 'third gender' category, reducing gender dysphoria while filling out such forms.
The officers have been asked to entertain documents even if there is a variation of details or photographs in the original documents, provided the people have a transgender certificate. This is a step welcomed by all as it takes a good amount of time for trans people to get the details on their original documents changed after they have come out of the closet. The Delhi government has also promised regular sensitization workshops for the officers regarding gender and sexuality, something that is missing from many spaces.
The authorities have also requested at least one separate washroom at inter-state bus terminals for transgender people. Washrooms might seem like a small step, but they hold greater consequences. The unavailability of safe spaces and public restrooms restricts the participation of people from the trans community. This also reduces sanitation and health-related risks for the population.
The released circular reads, “This is in reference to order no. F.No.32(105)/DWCD/Lit/MiscMatter/2022-23/11072-77 dated 09.10.2023, whereby the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has approved an advisory for ensuring the welfare of Transgender Persons containing a set of recommendations designed to enhance the welfare and rights of the community. The commission via DO letter no. R-51/2/2023-PRPP(RU2) dated 15.09.2023 has advised all concerned authorities of the union/State Governments/UT'Administration to implement the recommendations made in the advisory in the letter.”
One must understand that despite inclusive steps, many still face difficulties due to issues with implementation. Acknowledging that, the department has also been asked to implement the advisory mentioned by NHRC as early as possible and provide a report about the steps taken to the Commission. This has to be done by early November, as reported by the Press Trust of India.
The list of directives is a response to a recent order from the Delhi High Court, which mandated that both the central and state governments provide a response to a plea submitted by a transgender student. The plea revolves around the issue of horizontal reservations in educational spaces and job opportunities. The petitioner's argument is compelling; they assert, "Exclusion on the basis of gender from the Recruitment Process / Employment Opportunities at various positions in the Respondent No. 3 - The Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi (hereinafter referred to as 'ICMR'). All advertised vacancies for every position whatsoever published from time to time are confined only to the binary of Male and Female gender, thereby excluding Transgender Persons as a Separate Category."
The petition further emphasizes that despite their qualifications, the petitioner has remained unemployed due to the discriminatory practices of Respondent Nos. 3 to 6 (ICMR, AIIMS, Delhi Department of Welfare). These institutions have failed to create separate vacancies for transgender persons through horizontal reservation, an act of discrimination deemed unlawful, arbitrary, and impermissible under the law.
As part of the plea, the petitioner also requested the establishment of Transgender Protection Cells at different local levels to ensure their protection, a request that now appears to have been fulfilled.
Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav issued a notice returnable by 28th March 2024 to the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Law & Justice, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Government of Delhi, and Delhi's Department of Social Welfare.
This hearing took much of its inspiration from the fight of the landmark National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India & Ors (NALSA) judgment of 2014, which mentioned the act of Horizontal Reservation. The historic judgment mentioned that positions will be reserved for people belonging to the trans community in educational spaces and jobs. The same judgment recognized the trans population as a ‘Third Gender Category.’