Statements of Radical Socialist

Resist the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018

Statement of Radical Socialist, 23 December 2018

 

Radical Socialist affirms, first of all,

1. Sexuality generally is an important political issue. The oppression faced by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender people (LGBTs), is real.

2. We fight for a combination between the left and working class movement and the Queer movement (also movements of all other oppressed), without calling for the subordination of LGBT movement to any other movements.

3. We believe, though it may not be obvious, that the elimination of oppressions of LGBTs, like any other oppressed groups is necessarily linked with elimination of class society based on private ownership over means of production and the elimination of the exploitative and oppressive state, which can be summarised as elimination of capitalism. The vast majority of transgenders are of the working class. So working class unity necessarily requires struggling against all forms of oppression within this working class; including consciousness by relatively less oppressed layers of workers about special or multiple oppression; while every oppressed section within the working class must also be part of the common collective struggle against class oppression, i.e. against capitalism.

Our stand on the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 is based on the struggles of the Transgender community and organisations within it. The long struggles of the Transgender community saw one significant achievement, when the NALSA judgement came. This was a Supreme Court judgement which made acknowledging the self-definition of identity important.

Part of the judgement read:

Gender identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body which may involve a freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or functions by medical, surgical or other means and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. Gender identity, therefore, refers to an individual’s self-identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identified category.”

The NALSA judgement also ends with a demand from the Supreme Court that the central and the state governments uphold the right of transgender persons to decide their self-identified gender; and pursuant to this, be granted full legal recognition towards the same. This judgement was an important one, in a way too good to be true in a country where patriarchy and homophobia are so deeply entrenched. The parliamentary reaction under the Hindutva forces shows the backlash by the elite to the judgement.

Self-declaration versus regulation by bureaucracy:

 The importance of self-declaration is that it avoids any filter that any kind of legislation is likely to set up. The transgender community is a minority group that has borne a history of incessant discrimination, state sanctioned violence and systemic marginalisation. The inclusion and acceptance of the diversity of experiences under the umbrella of "transgender" can be realised fully only when there is a liberty to each individual to claim their identity and be legally recognised for it. The proposal in the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 is to set up a two-tier screening process to determine gender identity. If a Transgender person wants to get legal acknowledgement for the chosen identity, and applies for a “third gender” identity then the District Magistrate will have to be the person to whom application is submitted. A District Screening Committee will look into the application. It will include psychologists, medical officers, etc. Their certification is essential. If the wish is not for a “third gender” identity, but for the “opposite” gender, that is, if it is a cis-man asking for recognition as woman, or the reverse, then they have to get a certification from a committee, along with having Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and submitting its evidence to the District Magistrate. This flies in the face of the NALSA judgement which asserted that any insistence for SRS for declaring one’s gender is immoral and illegal.

Anti Transgender Features of the Bill:

 The Bill also criminalizes begging by making it an offense. Given the long history of the Hijras, the inclusion of this clause in this particular bill has to be seen as something pointed against them. In a country where so many are jobless, where begging in general is so widespread in all the big cities, to target begging in a bill devoted to Transgender Persons is so palpably a hostile act, that not just socialists and members of the LGBT+ community, but anyone claiming to be a democrat, has to oppose this.

The bill provides for a lower punishment for sexual violence against transgender persons (maximum two years) as opposed to the law punishing sexual violence against cis-women, which is up to seven years.

The bill treats transgender persons not as equal humans, empowered subjects, but as victims who require protection.

The bill attempts to compel transgender persons to return to the families in which they were born. The real situation is, in many cases they have left those families because of patriarchal and anti-trans oppression/violence. Thus, the bill effectively ignores domestic violence when the violence is directed against transgender persons.

The bill ignores the Supreme Court suggestion that transgenders be seen as a Backward Class/Community and reservations be made for them.

Under the circumstances, we condemn the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018.

We demand:                                                      

 

  • ·         A Law that follows the NALSA verdict

    ·          A law that is made in consultation with wide sections of transgender organisations across India

    ·         Reservation for Transgender persons in accordance with the NALSA verdict

    ·          An end to the criminalization of the profession of Hijras

    ·          A recognition of the alternative family/social networking of the transgender people which they have chosen, instead of forcing them to return to their families of birth.

 

 

We urge all transgender and other queer activists to recognise the necessity of unity of all sectors of the oppressed and exploited. This should not be seen as a rhetorical remark. Specific demands, such as the call for reservation, while perfectly just, will be used by the elite to divide the poor, as they already do. Unless the necessary links between different segments of the exploited and oppressed are worked out and organisational links forged, each struggle will remain isolated, and be easier to defeat. We may mobilise, and win some legal victories, but neither the law on minimum wages nor the law on self-identification will mean anything unless we have the united force to snatch from the rulers what we need.