Opening doors of opportunities for Transgenders

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Opening doors of opportunities for Transgenders

Trans people have existed in every race, class and society since the story of human life has been recorded. The modern term ‘transgender’ arose in the mid-1990s from the grassroots community of gender-different people.

There are a host of socio-cultural groups within trans people in India like hijras, kinnars, and other identities like – shiv-shaktis, jogtas, jogappas, etc.

Though there has been a positive movement for the LGBTQAI+ community in recent years, many transgenders feel there’s still a lot more to do in the fight for equality. Let us understand what has been done till date in India for the transgender community and what scan be done further.

Transgender Bill 2016

As per the transgender persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, it prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including unfair treatment or denial of service in relation to employment, education, healthcare, access to public goods and facilities, etc.

Also, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Court, terming it unconstitutional in respect of consensual homosexual sex between adults.

KEY PROVISIONS OF THE BILL ABOUT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES ARE SET OUT BELOW:

Section 3 (b): prohibits the unfair treatment of a transgender person about employment or occupation.
Section 3(c): prohibits the denial of employment and discriminatory termination from the same.

Section 10: bars establishments from discriminating against a transgender person in matters related to employment such as recruitment, promotion and other related issues.
Section 11: creates an obligation on establishments to comply with the provisions of the legislation and provide necessary facilities to transpeople.
Section 12: creates an obligation on every establishment consisting of more than 100 people to appoint a compliance officer who would deal with complaints regarding violations of the Act.
Section 15: creates a duty on the appropriate government to formulate welfare schemes and programs to facilitate and support livelihood for transgender persons, including their vocational training and self-employment.
Section 17: provides for the formation of a National Council by the Central Government with a representative from the Labour and Employment Department and Department of Legal Affairs, amongst others.
Section 19 (d): provides for penalties and punishments in the event any person harms, injures or endangers the life, safety, health, or well-being of a transgender person or tends to do any act which causes abuse of any nature whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and/or economic abuse.

Employment rates of transgender in India

The first-ever study on the rights of transgenders by the National Human Rights Commission gives a clear picture of the scenario of transgender in the country. According to the study, about 92 percent of transgenders are deprived of the right to participate in any form of economic activity in the country, with even qualified ones refused jobs.

As per 2011 census data, India’s trans population consist of 490,000 people, out of which handful of them only make it to gainful employment. Though there are number of efforts being made to change this narrative. For example, a Chennai-based start-up is working towards the social inclusion of the transgender community, but it has only been able to place 42 trans people in its 14-month existence. So focusing on trans employment at the workplace is the need of the hour.

In 2017, Kerala’s Kochi Metro Rail Limited employed 23 transgender persons, while eight out of them quit their jobs within a month due to refusal by several landlords to give them accommodation. They were left with no remedy but to quit their jobs since their employer had no legal obligation and/ or incentive to step in and help them fight against such discrimination.

It is only Tamil Nadu where some steps have been taken to improve the life of these people by providing them with education, identity cards, subsidised food, etc.

There are many transgender who have done exemplary work in their field, for example, Joyita Mondal from West Bengal becomes the first transgender judge in the country or the first Transgender sub-inspector from Tamil Nadu.

These are live examples of individual struggles leading to the landmark victory.

What can be done by Corporates, Society and the Government?

While there are specific provisions in the Transgender Bill that protect transgender interests by prohibiting discrimination in employment opportunities, the implementation of such provisions is a big challenge.

A robust legal mechanism to safeguard transgender interests is the need of the hour and huge penalties must be imposed on offenders/violators. Further, relevant amendments under specific legislation such as the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, and the Maternity Act, 2013, may need to be revisited to include a trans people in their ambit for rigorous implementation of the provisions of the Bill. This will also safeguard a transgender person against discrimination in the workplace.

Equal opportunity to education and livelihood needs to be ensured. Which means from schools, colleges to workplaces need to be sensitized and prepared to welcome transpersons and ensure that they are not discriminated against.Just like there are education facilities provided from EWS, girl child, physically disabled, there should be mandatory education for children from the trans community.

The Government can take necessary steps to ensure that an employer is complying with such provision by way of mandating an employer to submit quarterly returns that include details pertaining to the number of vacancies available, interviews conducted for them and the number of positions filled, including percentage of transgender employed therein.

How a society can change

As a society, change has to begin from the family level. Educate children on how trans people are just people, like us, with aspirations and dreams. Sometimes they do not have the means to fulfill them, and we can play a role in their journey. We should treat them with respect, like every other human being.

Workplaces need to be more transgender-inclusive with initiatives like equal opportunity hiring, providing infrastructure such as restrooms for the third gender, action against misconduct/ harassment, medical insurance and policies, health care.

And last but not the least we need to more inclusive for them in our society by treating them equally.

(this content is taken from https://www.indiatoday.in/ for knowledge basis and news updates)

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