Transgender as ‘Third sex’


  • Introduction:


    • Transgender people are individuals of any sex whose appearance, personal characteristics or behaviours differ from how they are supposed to be i.e., Man or Woman
    • Transgender people existed since the story of human life has been recorded
    • The word Transgender arose in mid 1990s from grassroot community of gender-different people which not only include trans-sexual people and male- female cross dressers but also to people appearance or characteristics are perceived to be gender atypical i.e., behaviour falls outside of stereotypical gender norms.
    • Synonyms of Transgender: gender variant, gender-different and gender non-conforming.
    • “Transgender‟ is an umbrella term that describes persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour does not conform to their biological sex.


  • Diff b/w Sex and Gender:


    • Sex is biological entity that is either male or female which includes physical attributes i.e., sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, internal reproductive structures and external genitalia.
    • Gender is often refer as ways that people act, interact or feel about themselves.
    • Therefore, aspects of biological sex are the same across different cultures but not the aspects of gender.


  • Gender identity and gender expression:


    • Gender identity refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being either man or woman or someother or in between. Therefore it is not visible to others.
    • Whereas gender expression is external and socially perceived i.e., either masculine or feminine
  • In India host of socio-cultural groups of transgender are
    • Hijras/ Kinnars
    • Shiv-shaktis
    • Jogtas
    • Aradhis
    • sakhi etc


  • Problems faced by Transgenders in India:


    • They have been exchanged from effectively participating in social and cultural life, economy and Politics and decision making processes. Primary reason for exclusion is lack of recognition of gender status of hijras and other transgender people. Key barrier that often prevents them in exercising their civil rights in their desired gender.
    • The main problems that are being faced by the transgender community are of discrimination, unemployment, lack of educational facilities, homelessness, lack of medical facilities like HIV care and hygiene, depression, hormone pill abuse, tobacco and alcohol abuse, penectomy and problems related to marriage and adoption.
    • Transgenders, though human beings are not recognized as persons in violation of human rights as they are deprived of their fundamental rights as well as also other civil rights. The lack of recognition isolates transgenders, especially eunuchs, in the matter of civil rights. The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Since gender is taken to be only male and female, the eunuchs and transgenders cannot effectively exercise or avail the benefits of constitutional rights and avail of facilities and benefits available to the male and female genders
    • They are facing discrimination even in the healthcare settings. registering them as males and accommodating them in male wards where they are not comfort with.
    • Social welfare departments provide variety of social welfare schemes for socially and economically backward groups. However so far no specific scheme are available for hijras except some rare cases of providing land for Aravanis in Tamil Nadu.
    • Transgenders have no access to bathrooms/toilets and public spaces. The lack of access to bathrooms and public spaces access is illustrative of discrimination faced by transgenders in availing each facilities and amenities. They face similar problems in prisons, hospitals and schools.
    • Transgenders have very limited employment opportunities as most jobs are confined to male and female sexes. Transgenders, being a third sex, cannot even apply for most of the jobs.
    • Reforms needed to improve situation


  • Legal Measures


      • Every person must have the right to decide their gender expression and identity, including transsexuals, transgenders, transvestites, and hijras. They should also have the right to freely express their gender identity. This includes the demand for hijras to be considered female as well as a third sex.
      • There should be a special legal protection against this form of discrimination inflicted by both state and civil society which is very akin to the offence of practicing untouchability.
      • The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1956, as has been pointed out earlier, is used less for preventing trafficking than for intimidating those who are the most vulnerable. This law needs to be reformed with a clear understanding of how the state is to deal with those engaged in sex work.
      • Civil rights under law such as the right to get a passport, ration card, make a will, inherit property and adopt children must be available to all regardless of change in gender / sex identities.
    • Police Reforms
      • The police administration should appoint a standing committee comprising Station House Officers and human rights and social activists to promptly investigate reports of gross abuses by the police against kothis and hijras in public areas and police stations, and the guilty policeman be immediately punished.
      • The police administration should adopt transparency in their dealings with hijras and kothis; make available all information relating to procedures and penalties used in detaining kothis and hijras in public places.
      • Protection and safety should be ensured for hijras and kothis to prevent rape in police custody and in jail. Hijras should not be sent into male cells with other men in order to prevent harassment, abuse, and rape.
      • The police at all levels should undergo sensitization workshops by human rights groups/queer groups in order to break down their social prejudices and to train them to accord hijras and kothis the same courteous and humane treatment as they should towards the general public.


Other Suggestions:


    • Transgender persons must be properly documented in census. There is need for statutory reservation in education, elections and employment both in the public and private sectors. They need to be empowered and uplifted by facilities for higher education and vocational training to upgrade their earnings and status in society so as to promote their acceptability in society.
    • Since transgenders are prone to health risks and setbacks, they need to be provided proper medical facilities, including health insurance and clinics, where free or subsidized treatment should be made available.
    • The word ‘rape’ in Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) should include all sexual crimes against women, men, children and transsexuals/eunuchs, as eunuchs are often the targets of some of the worst sex crimes, more so, if they happened to be sex workers. It has, therefore, been prayed to direct appropriate modification/interpretation of section 375 to include transsexuals and eunuchs in the definition of the term ‘rape’.
    • Need appropriate modification/ interpretation of Section 377 of IPC, validating the rights of homosexual people be modified/interpreted to include transsexuals and eunuchs in the definition of the term ‘homosexuals’.”
    • A comprehensive sex-education program should be included as part of the school curricula that alters the heterosexist bias in education and provides judgement-free information and fosters a liberal outlook with regard to matters of sexuality, including orientation, identity and behavior of all sexualities. Vocational training centers should be established for giving the transgender new occupational opportunities.
    • The Press Council of India and other watchdog institutions of various popular media (including film, video and TV) should issue guidelines to ensure sensitive and respectful treatment of these issues.


Proposal Bill in Parliament:

  • The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014


      • The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 was passed by Rajya Sabha on April 24, 2015. 
      • The Bill addresses rights of transgender persons to include:
        • non-discrimination in the workplace and protection from violence, exploitation and torture.
        • It requires that the central government formulate schemes to facilitate the employment of transgender persons and proposes to reserve two percent of seats in government aided educational institutions, and central and state government posts for them


Supreme Court recognises constitutional rights of transgender persons

  • On April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court passed a judgment that gave legal recognition to transgender persons as a third gender. It also gave directions to safeguard their constitutional rights on the grounds of right to equality and equal protection under Articles 14 and 15 and the right against gender discrimination under Article 16 of the Constitution.


      • The Court also directed the central and state governments to take appropriate steps to:  
        • Treat transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes, and extend reservation in cases of admission to educational institutions and for public appointments;  
        • Operate separate HIV sero-surveillance centres for transgender persons;
        • Provide adequate medical care to transgender persons in hospitals and ensure separate public toilets and other facilities.



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