Enabling Citizens to Self-Identify their Gender
The transgender community is amongst the most marginalized groups in India. Often living on the fringes of society, their right to identity, livelihood and entitlement to universal services is based on the whims of an apathetic state administration. The year 2014 was a churning point when the Indian judiciary guaranteed the right of recognition to transgender as citizens enabling them to self- identify their gender.
Implementation gap in law is most often the cause for deprivation of individual rights in India. Despite the judicial recognition of transgenders, very little has changed for them on ground. The Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) joined hands with Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in organising a National Conference on Transgender Rights and the Law in Bangalore. The emotionally charged event gathered members and activists of the transgender community, lawyers, academia and students. The event aimed to delve into crucial points such as criminalization of the transgender identity, whether gender non-conformity is worthy of constitutional protection and gathering strategic inputs for the pending Transgender Bill, 2016 in the parliament.
Most of the transgender narratives had undercurrents of violence, exploitation, societal phobias and the collective courage of the community to fight for respect, legal entity and acceptance from the society and even their own families. The participants gained an understanding of the legal jurisprudence in the development of anti-discrimination laws in the United States. The group discussed various obstacles that the transgender group faces concerning social interaction, integration and relations. The ability of the law to act as a tool of social emancipation and reflect complex lived realities, gender identities and sexuality was questioned.
FNF along with CLPR will continue to work on transgender rights possibly looking into developing a clinical law course in 2017. Stay tuned for more developments.