One small step for a Government, one giant leap for transgender rights.
Another feather to the cap of the Madhya Pradesh Government, in addition to the appointment of a transgender person as the personal secretary to the Department of Social Justice and Disable Person’s Welfare, is its announcement to roll out a welfare policy for its transgender residents. The policy is the result of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act that came into force in December 2019. As per the Act, “transgender persons” is a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-woman (whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy, or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, genderqueer and person having such socio-cultural identities as Kinner, hijra, arravani and jogta.
Ever since the introduction of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020, in July 2020, the social justice department has been aiming to bring about change in the societal attitude towards the transgender community. To achieve this objective, the Policy aims to give equal rights and protection to the transgender community. In the short term, its seeks to provide employment to transgenders in government offices and to sensitize government officials about them. Whereas, in the long term, the policy aims to grant certain legal rights to the transgender persons.
Some of the key aspects of this policy will be:
- Promotion of mass marriages for transgenders.
- Legal aid for rights to parental property.
- Financial assistance for sex reassignment surgeries in selected government hospitals/medical colleges.
- Law to punish those who call transgenders by offensive names.
- Pension for persons of above age 55 years.
- Shelter homes and old age homes.
- Proposed amendments to be made in law to allow transgenders to adopt a child as a single parent.
- To prevent atrocities including trafficking & those related to acceptance, helpline and rehabilitation centre will be started.
The Transgender Welfare Board has been charged with ensuring effective implementation of the Policy in the state. As per the Government officials, the policy is still in the draft stage and representations and suggestions have been invited from various stakeholders.
According to Mr. Prateek Hajela, principal secretary, social justice department, Madhya Pradesh: “The idea is that there is an Act which has already been passed in Parliament and it says that there should be no discrimination against transgenders and they should be streamlined into society in the same manner as non-transgender people. That will mean, stay, travel, education, employment; so that is what the Act is. In July-August, the rules have already been framed by the government and we have also received the same. So, once a law is passed, it has to be implemented and we have to put in some mechanism to ensure that. We have done a lot of brain-storming and we have instituted the Atal Bihari Institute of Good Governance in Bhopal. They have also undertaken discussions with stakeholders, including transgenders and their associations. Based on the feedback, they will be drafting the policy soon and after that, we will work on it and finalise it. We will be able to enforce it before this year ends.”
Considering the social rejection faced by the transgender community in the society, Posh at Work, welcomes this initiative by the Madhya Pradesh Government and hopes that soon the other States will follow suit and implement similar policies to streamline the inclusion of transgenders within the society.