The flaws with the Transgender Bill, 2016
Aniruddha Choudhury 31 Aug 2016

The flaws with the Transgender Bill, 2016

New Delhi: India as a country believes that they are tolerant. Tolerant of all differences in caste, race, religion, age etc. In this spirit and in a move to empower transgenders and put an end to discrimination faced by them in India, the Union Cabinet passed the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Bill, 2016 on 20 July, 2016.

On the surface, the bill promises to empower transgender population in the country and give them equal rights. However, this theory falls flat when the bill is analyzed. Apart from having been passed in a hurry, it suffers from various structural and technical glitches.

The first problem lies with the way in which transgender persons have been defined. The current definition consists of usage of phrases describing a transgender person as-

(a) Neither wholly female nor wholly male;

(b) A combination of female or male;

(c) Neither female nor male.

This by itself is derogatory and not a right depiction.

Another flaw lies with the process of identification envisaged under the bill. A transgender person would need to apply for a certificate of identity to the district magistrate, who will then refer the application to a screening committee, which will issue a certificate of identity to the person. Putting transgenders through such a harrowing process simply for obtaining a certificate of identification goes against the ease that was expected under the bill.

Lastly, the transgenders as a community have been one which has suffered years of discrimination and social prejudice consisting of infliction of violence by families, police, lack of availability of a complaint mechanism etc. The present bill has conveniently chosen to not ignore these issues.


By the end, one is left to wonder if the bill can actually achieve what it was meant to deliver- empowerment and equal rights to transgender population in India. 

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