Why India’s transgender people are protesting against a Bill that claims to protect their rights


Four days after the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on November 20, members of the transgender community marched in Delhi’s 12th Queer Pride Parade on Sunday to highlight their concerns about the proposed legislation. The Bill is a far cry from the Supreme Court’s landmark 2014 judgement in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India (or NALSA), which was applauded for its progressive stance on self-determination of gender. In fact, the passage of this Bill – which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on August 5 with little debate – will violate the rights of the very individuals it seeks to protect. There are several problems with the proposed legislation. According to the Bill, a transgender person must apply to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity indicating their gender as “transgender”. If a transgender person undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or female, a revised certificate may be obtained. At this point, the District Magistrate will examine the “correctness” of the medical certificate issued by a Medical Superintendent or Chief Medical Officer.

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