New Delhi: On Sunday 26 March, the transgender community organized a meeting at Naz Foundation, Delhi to discuss on a strategy to campaign for horizontal reservation for the community. This meeting was hosted by Jane Kaushik, a trans woman working for the rights of the transgender community.
The meeting for the rights of transgender persons was attended by social activists, politicians, NGO workers, students working for the cause, advocates and professors.
The fight to secure a horizontal reservation for the transgender community in public education & employment is gaining momentum and includes a legal battle that seeks to modify a part of the 2014 historic NALSA judgement. The agenda for today’s meeting was to bring people from different backgrounds together and in support of the fight to bring horizontal reservation for the oppressed transgender persons.
Why do transgender persons desperately need a horizontal reservation?
Transgender persons don’t belong in mainstream society, we don’t see transgender people working in corporates or in government sectors, because they aren’t provided the opportunity to avail these jobs despite how educated or well-trained they may be.
The meeting at Naz foundation was also attended by online viewers through Google Meet, out of which a trans man told about his experience of discrimination on the basis of gender, he said, “I was working in a corporate and had to leave the job after I revealed my gender identity, I cannot hide my gender, I don’t feel ashamed because of my gender identity. After leaving the job I’m still looking for a job opportunity but hardly any luck.”
The reason transgender persons feel left out of society is the behavior they had to deal with from the common people on a daily basis. In India majority of people don’t believe that the transgender community is as equal as their counterparts- male and female. This is what the community is looking forward to changing with the enactment of horizontal reservation.
Talking about discrimination, Jane Kaushik says, “Transgender persons don’t want to get indulge in sex work, begging or toli-badhai, we want to work, we want equal opportunities in terms of education and employment. Many of us have ambitions in life, we want to follow them but this discriminating society and laws won’t let us do that.”
Education is a struggle in itself for transgender persons, as they are not treated the same way as the other children in schools. They have to drop out in the majority of cases because of the bullying they have to deal with and even if some get past it and complete their education, then there are no job opportunities provided for them.
A protest planned to be held on Ambedkar Jayanti
The members present at the meeting came together with a plan to protest for the rights of transgender persons. Lawyers and social activists suggested the plan to do a peaceful protest and found 14 April the suitable day to uplift the demand for horizontal reservation in front of the government and society at large.
The transgender community along with other influential people belonging to different backgrounds in politics, social work, activism, etc., have planned to step out on roads and talk loud about their demand for horizontal reservation.
Jane Kaushik says, “We will do a peaceful protest so that the government will give immediate attention to our problems and demands laid before them.”
Transgender community needs implementation in the NALSA verdict
The transgender community in India is still fighting for the judgment's implementation, which ordered the Central and State governments to grant trans people "all sorts of reservation" in admissions to educational institutions and jobs. The community is also working to guarantee separate trans reservations across all categories because the verdict also asked for trans individuals to be treated as "Socially and Educationally Backward Classes," which posed the possibility of grouping them with OBCs.
But, activists, academics, and lawyers present at the meeting told The Mooknayak that they will fight for the transgender community and their drive for seeking horizontal reservation will only get stronger.
The Union government recently in the month of February revealed in a response in Parliament that it was not considering any proposal to give trans people quotas.
"The comment of the government [in Parliament] is essentially going against the NALSA verdict," asserted Jayna Kothari, one of the attorneys who battled for and secured 1% horizontal reservation for trans people in the Karnataka High Court.
The Social Justice Ministry responded earlier that week, stating that the law already forbade any form of discrimination against transgender persons and that it was not considering any proposal to introduce reservations for them.
Jane Kaushik, who also has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court says, “If there is no representation of the trans community in jobs and admissions to educational institutions, how would mainstreaming be possible?”
The transgender community is now adamant about their demand for horizontal reservation and will pressurize the concerned authorities to look into the matter as early as possible.
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