Author: Harshita Dixit, II Year of B.B.A.,LL.B from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies.
Linda Thompson a famous American songwriter once said “Being a transgender, being tall, being gay, white or black, male or female, is another part of humans which makes us unique and something over we have no control. We are who we are in the deepest recesses of our mind, hearts, and identities.”
Transgender is a term which is used to describe a person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from their biological sex. A transperson’s struggle to survive starts from childhood. Most are abandoned by their families, denied education. In order to provide social, economic and educational empowerment, the supreme court judgement ruled out in NALSA v. INDIA that transgender people should be recognised as a third gender enjoying all their fundamental rights, while also being entitled to specific benefits like purchasing, renting properties, holding public offices.
Subsequently, in order to protect the rights of transgender, 20th November is celebrated as transgender Remembrance Day. It was first observed in 1999 by a transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann smith to honour the memory of Rita haster, a transgender who was stabbed 20 times in her own apartment.
But little we know about the heinous crimes they go through. The number of real incidents of heinous crimes against transgender is 10 or 11 times higher than the ones reported with the police. The difference in numbers is largely because of the little legal sanction to act on rapes and sexual violence. In addition to that, the provision for punishment for serious crimes committed against transgender people is substantially less severe than for the same crimes committed towards other communities like the penalty for rape of a transgender is merely just six months to two years. Second, and more concerning is the apparent, contempt, prejudice and disdain against their community.
For instance, on 15th January 2019, Alka a 23-years-old transwoman left her house to visit the tattapni festival in Chhattisgarh, did she realize that while visiting she would meet two people and amongst them would be an alleged rapist? Did she realize it would be her last day just? She was brutally murdered because she was a trans gender and not a cisgender. Another unspeakable instance happened in June 2017; a 19 years old transgender woman was gangraped by four men in pune. When she went to the hospital, the doctors were asking questions about how a transgender could possibly get raped. Even the nurses were rude. This lack of sensitivity and understandability, in most the cases, open hostility and transphobia, discourage transgender from seeking legal remedies. Every year across the world numerous transgender persons are murdered simply because of who they are. A much higher number of sexual violences goes unreported. This is the price which they pay for just simply existing.
Consequently, this leads to a scenario where begging and sex work becomes their only options to earn and survive. Being forced into sex work puts transgender at the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and takes away their agency over their bodies, along with violating their fundamental rights.
Society looks at them with pity and disgusting eyesight. Nevertheless, they have risen irrespective of all bigotry and challenges. Some of the famous and known are Padmini Prakash who scripted history by becoming the first transgender woman to anchor a local new channel in Lotus. another known yet inspiring is K Prithika Yashini who became the first transgender police officer in India. If these people can survive and try to prosper in a society which sees them as impure then isn’t it our choice and responsibility to stop the societal behavioural negative norms towards them?
I dare to dream of a world where people can dress, speak and behave how they want, free from mockery, judgement and danger. This is what I want. Who’s with me?