Transgenders are individuals who do not align with the gender identity assigned at birth. Hence they experience gender dysphoria due to different gender identities and assigned gender during birth. They undergo Gender-affirming care, including socio, medical and legal transition to affirm their gender identity. They undergo medical transition majorly feminising hormone therapy to affirm their gender identity. Transgenders face many challenges like discrimination, and stigma leading to social exclusion, bullying, harassment, and violence. The challenges manifest in the fields like employment, healthcare, legal recognition, housing, and education.
In 2014 a landmark judgement was passed by the supreme court of India that transgenders are entitled to basic rights. rights to education, dignity, freedom, the right against discrimination, violence, and exploitation, the right to work, and the right to identify their gender and express it. In India, they are considered as third gender. In 2016, the union cabinet approved bills to protect the rights of transgenders. They are free to be identified as he/she or transgender and are not enforceable to leave their residence, beg, or bond labour. Transgender children have the right to equality and all human rights by the constitution of India, and no discrimination in the schools. Transgenders are considered to fall in the OBC category if not SC or ST. There are welfare programs designed by the government to empower them and loans are provided to encourage self-employers.
There are transgender pioneers achieving in their respective fields. Here are a few trailblazers:
Madhu Bai Kinnar
Madhu is the first transgender mayor, as an independent candidate in Raigarh, Chattisgarh, India. Born as Naresh Chauhan, a Dalit, and left her family to join the local transgender community and chose the name, Madhu. She used to take up some odd jobs like singing and dancing on the street and on the trains before contesting for the election. Her agenda as a mayor was to see the city clean with proper sanitization, end transgender begging, empower them, and ensure ration cards for the poor. In 2019, Raigarh won the Swachata Excellence Award for her hard work.
Joshi is the first transgender international beauty queen and won the title of Miss World Diversity in 2017, 2018, and 2019 consecutively. Recorded as the first trans woman to win the competition for three consecutive years. She has won seven titles so far. She is a cover model. She was sent to Mumbai by her parents at the age of 7 due to her feminine behaviour to avoid taunts from her neighbours and relatives. She worked in bars and restaurants as a dancer to make a living. Joshi is the director for Mrs India Home Makers (MIHM) and works on gender sensitization programs.
Anjali is the first transgender lead actress, in Malayalam and Tamil movies cast opposite Mammootty in the movie Peranbu. She was born into an orthodox Muslim family in Thamarassery, Kerala. She had to leave the house when they realised she was transgender. Later she left for Chennai and continued her graduation in social work from Madurai Kamaraj University.
Joyita is the first transgender to be appointed as a judge at Lok Adalat in Islampur, West Bengal. She completed her degree in Law through correspondence and was appointed as a judge. She left her home and spent her days in streets, and bus stops begging. She works for the welfare of the transgender community and started an organisation to help people in her district.
There are several transgenders, who have pioneered in their field but still, there is a higher ratio of them struggling in society for fundamental basic human rights. The census data confirms that the literacy rate transgenders are only 47% compared to 74% of the normal population. They face issues of social exclusion, negative and rude family reactions, bullying at school turning them into dropouts, poor economic conditions, discrimination at workplaces, and psychological stress. Public awareness has to be created for their human rights. In 2019 The Transgender Persons Act was passed to protect their rights. The act recognizes the right of self-identifying gender and prohibits discrimination in areas like education, employment, and healthcare. Government has to encourage them by providing scholarships in educational institutes to make the literacy rates higher. Parents need to support transgender children instead of abandoning them by making them homeless due to societal stigma. Only some of the public hospitals offer transgender healthcare services, it has to be increased with more options. The punishments by the government should be followed strictly for violating or discriminating against transgender rights. Several activists are working toward awareness of their rights but it is we as a society who need to support them.