Last night, I finally read several of the #stoptransbill2016 tweets and was horrified. I was sorry that I had been running around so madly with campaign activities that I had not been reading or retweeting any of the protest posts before this.
I am not an expert on LGBTIQA+ issues, and I have a great deal to learn. But I am, and always have been, 1000% clear that every human being has the same rights and that each of us has a right to live happily and well, with love and without violence. From that vague, generalised starting point, my journey with Prajnya has also been a journey of learning new perspectives, new vocabularies and new frameworks. I don't speak or write very much about LGBTIQA+ issues because like a lot of other people, I am afraid of inadvertently saying the wrong thing. I don't want to hurt in the name of support or being an ally.
But here I am. Outraged and shocked enough that I am going to take a chance on this and try and tell you what I understand as well as point you to others who can explain better.
In 2014, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court directed the Central and State Governments to recognise trans persons as a third gender. They recognised that trans identity is determined by a person's choice and not by biology and held that forcing people to have Sex Reassignment Surgery is illegal. The recognition of third gender rights extends to social, economic and infrastructural spheres. This judgment was welcomed by trans persons and activists as it reflected their own thinking and wishes.
In 2015, Tiruchi Siva introduced a Bill to enshrine the ideas and instructions of the NALSAR judgment in law. That too, was widely welcomed.
Not to be outdone, the government then introduced its own TG Bill and it is this Bill that we are all protesting. Why?
First of all, it is underpinned by some horrific thinking about gender and sexuality and trans persons in particular, that dehumanizes and others them. Read this Twitter thread for an illustration.
Second, it reverses the gains made in the NALSA judgment by returning to thinking about gender identity in biological terms. That is, my gender is what someone else says it is, based on my body parts, and not how I feel and what my own instinct about myself is. Not only do trans persons not have the right to choose their identities, but from this follows the right to choose to live in a way that makes them feel right, feel happy.
Third, it removes agency from the trans person's life by placing them in the custody of others in the name of protection. Beware of patriarchy's protective instincts because it only protects itself. What it does to those that do not fit its unnatural taxonomies is to infantilise and dehumanise them. Women know this, but we must extend this understanding beyond our gender.
Finally, the Bill is silent about violence, and in fact, reduces the punishment for sexual violence against trans persons from the usual seven years to 6 months to two years. Why? Is this not an equal violence? And is it a lesser violence to the promoters of the Bill because individuals who do not fit into a textbook binary are lesser humans?
Actually, this is the crux of the matter. In 2017, a proposed law that tells us that some of us are less than others must not be countenanced by anyone with a heart. Forget the words you don't understand. Forget the politics you don't follow. Forget everything. Just think: If someone told you they were going to make a law that said you were not as human as they were, how would you feel? Abandoned? Betrayed? "You would cry too if it happened to you."
STOP THE TRANS BILL 2016. Do whatever you can.
TO LEARN MORE
Nadika N, Transgender Bill: It claims to grant rights, but will end up curtailing them, The News Minute, August 5, 2016.
Shalini Nair, Transgender community terms govt’s Bill as ‘regressive’, launches nationwide protest movement, Indian Express, December 9, 2017.
Sampoorna India, Open Letter to Parliamentary Standing Committee On Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, September 2017.
Sampoorna India, TG Bill Factsheet.
(Happy to add other sources and links, and follow recommendations, as advised!)