Many transgender individuals sustain their lives by begging or engaging in sex work. This not only leads to stigmatization but exclusion from the self-proclaimed “posh” areas of the society as well.
Many transgender individuals sustain their lives by begging or engaging in sex work. This not only leads to stigmatization but exclusion from the self-proclaimed “posh” areas of the society as well.Pics- Queer Swabhiman Yatra, Hyderabad, Twitter

Modi Govt Says it has Given Trans Community a Dignified Life, the Group Rubbishes the Claim

The world discusses what India has done for transgenders, Prime Minister Modi said during the 17th session of the Lok Sabha.

New Delhi- On the last day of Parliament’s Budget Session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about his achievements, especially the ones regarding the trans community. 

During his speech, he claimed the transgender community has been “given an identity” during his tenure.

“The transgender community always felt disrespected...and people would avoid these issues. Members of the 17th Lok Sabha expressed concern and sought to ensure a better life for them,” he said.

He said the world discusses what India has done for transgenders. “We have given transgenders an identity. As many as 16,000-17,000 people from the community have been given identity cards,” he added.

He went on to claim his government gave the Padma Award to transgenders. “They have started receiving the benefits of various government schemes that they didn’t have before. They are now living lives of respect,” he said.

The Mooknayak talked to multiple trans rights activists from various regions to know if the boasting by the Central government actually holds any merit. One thing that connected all of these individuals, irrespective of their caste, class, gender and region, is their anger they all share.

“There is only one Garima Greh, and it operates with a limited capacity,” said Kabir Maan from Delhi.

The Greh aims at providing shelter to transgender persons with basic amenities such as food, shelter, medical care and recreational facilities.

Delhi is a big city with a population of almost 3.5 crore, he said, adding that the data suggests that there are over 4,000 trans people in the city even though the data is grossly underrepresented, and the population has only increased in the following years.

Talking about the situation of shelter houses for the community, Mann, who identifies himself as a trans man, asked, “In entire Delhi, we have only one Garima Greh, which also functions in limited capacity. How are we assuming that a city with such a large population has only few trans people in need of help?”

He said the government has opened the Garima Greh, but it lacks proper care. “There are no evaluations that are conducted nor checks to see if vocational training is being undertaken,” he said.

Talking about identity cards for transgenders, he said only the transgender community knows about it. “How many cisgenders and heterosexual people know it?” he asked.

Sharing a personal anecdote, he said on many occasions, banks have declined to acknowledge his identity card.

Asked if his gender identity had an impact on his safety, Mann remarked, “We do not feel safe.”

“If something happens to us, going to the police will never be the first thought because we know the first judgment will be made on our gender identity,” he said.

Mann further talked about the invisibility faced by trans men. “Whenever we hear the word ‘transgender’, the first image that comes to our mind is of a trans woman; particularly, the ones from Hijda or Kinnar communities. Visibility of trans men is next to nothing,” he pointed out.

He said most of the schemes meant for the community and diversity hiring are focused on trans women.

Santa Khurai from Manipur said, “In the northeast, numerous departments lack awareness about the Trans Act.”

“In Manipur, the Transgender Protection Act, 2019 is only on paper. There has been no initiative from the government’s side,” the activist alleged.

The world has been witnessing a communal strife in the northeastern state since May 2023. Over 170 individuals have lost their lives and thousands have been injured so far.

Talking about the life of trans people due to the violence, Khurai said, “Relief camps were set up, but there was no specific facility for trans people. There were no separate washrooms nor any privacy for the community members.”

Many trans people, especially trans women, the activist said, lost their businesses during clashes. “It was already difficult to secure investments owing to their identity. Till date, no specific step has been taken by the government to help the community,” the activist highlighted.

“In the northeast, many departments are not even aware of the Trans Act. In Mizoram, a trans person had gone to the district magistrate for transgender certificate. The official did not understand what to do; so, they sent the individual to the police station for further clarification. This is not permissible under the legislation,” said Khurai.

The frustrated activist said, “It is not our responsibility to sensitize every department official.”

“Trans people are still not allowed to donate blood,” explained Santa, referring to the Supreme Court hearing on the community’s exclusion from the blood transfusion process. 

Till date, she said, only two hearings have been organized so far. Due to a lack of awareness, there is no public outcry about it.

The activist further delved into the formation of a trans council by the Central government to look into the rights of the community. 

She explained, “The Transgender National Council has representatives from different regions, but India is a very diverse country. It is not possible for only five representatives to look into the issues faced by all trans people. The council also lacks religious and cultural diversity.”

Sharing her personal story about her trying to work with the government for inclusion, Santa said, “In August 2023, I received a verbal invitation from the Social Welfare department, and I learned about the state government allocating Rs 10 lakh for the transgender community’s welfare.” 

Later, she being the only trans woman in an expert committee had to leave India due to growing ethnic violence in Manipur.

“While abroad, I was notified about the committee’s first meeting and expressed safety concerns, but the staff proceeded without me. The committee decided to conduct a survey with ASHA workers, excluding community members - raising questions,” she said.

Her formal email to appoint a substitute went unanswered, and she criticized the feasibility of the survey amid violent clashes - emphasizing the need for community representation and privacy considerations.

“The government is compelling us to resort to begging or indulging in sex work,” claims Nikita Mukhdyal from Maharashtra.

A government job aspirant and a trans woman, she angrily stated, “It is almost as if the government is forcing us to beg or continue with sex work.”

Many transgender individuals sustain their lives by begging or engaging in sex work. This not only leads to stigmatization but exclusion from the self-proclaimed “posh” areas of the society as well.

“Our community is forced to live in ghettos. Since most of us either beg or perform sex work, we are not allowed to live in certain spaces,” revealed Mukhdyal, adding, “We might also not be able to afford a good living standard. We are regularly harassed. This further affects our physical and mental health.”

“Even after the NALSA judgment of 2014, there is no horizontal reservation for us. I am a Dalit trans person. Binary genders from the SC community have reservations. Where is mine?” she asked.

She said there is no provision for such persons in employment or educational institutions. 

“How are we supposed to earn money?” she asked, continuing, “On papers, hospital beds and washrooms are being made for us, but I dare you to go on the ground and look into the facts”.

“We are constantly going to courts even when we do not have money or the means of earning livelihood. The people in power want us to live without any autonomy,” she added.

Lawyer Padma Lakshmi from Kerala alleges that “no transgender person has received a house under the state-initiated LIFE Mission.

Lakshmi, the first trans lawyer from Kerala, acknowledged, “South Indian states are still comparatively better than the north Indian states, which is mainly due to the state governments.”

Talking about the strides taken by the state of Karnataka, the lawyer said it is the only state that has issued a 1% horizontal reservation for the trans community. The Kerala government has announced reservations in the education sector but not in employment.

But Lakshmi feels living with dignity is still far from possible. “Ziya and Zahhad’s plea against the Kozikhode corporation is still pending in the High Court,” she remarked. 

The lawyer referred to the corporation’s refusal of a transgender couple’s request to list their names as “parent” instead of “father” and “mother” on their child’s birth certificate.

The couple, Zahhad (23) and Ziya Paval (22), biological parents of the child, moved the Kerala High Court for a fresh certificate, reflecting their correct gender identities.

The state government had started the LIFE Mission for the homeless individuals in need of secure housing, including those who haven’t completed housing or lack a proper residence. 

Lakshmi alleged, “Not even one trans person has gotten a house under the mission.”

In a strong but distinct voice, the lawyer asserted, “We need employment and shelter. No police personnel are from the trans community. No trans person with a declared gender identity is employed in any government job.”

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