Given transgenders are a very vulnerable section of the population, the government has done well to propose a law to preserve and uphold their rights, providing them many liberties that cisgendered persons take as granted. The Bill is modelled on a private members’ Bill moved by Rajya Sabha member, Tiruchi Siva, which talked about guaranteeing safe accommodation to transgender individuals apart from fixing strict penal provisions for hate speech/crime against transgender people, in the same spirit as the provisions to punish caste atrocities.
India has, over the last few years, adopted a progressive attitude when it comes to social and legal provisioning for transgender people, though there are many attitudinal barriers that are yet to be overcome. In 2014, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment that created a ‘third gender’ status and asked the Centre to treat the community as socially and economically backward. Now, the Bill, if passed, should go a step further in breaking down long-held taboos. Where it misses the plot, however, is in proposing a system of reservation (within the OBC quota), as per a Business Standard report, in education and jobs. The transgender community, and the country overall, would have been served better had the Bill been modelled more on the lines of the law that Canada has recently proposed to protect the rights of transgender persons. The Canadian Bill enshrines equal opportunity of employment and access to education without mandating any form of reservation. It also expands its hate crime law’s ambit to cover any targeting of gender identity and gender expression in speech or action. India, on the other hand, may end up with progressive intent translating into regressive action.