New Delhi: In a boost to the rights of transgender persons, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has decided to amend the definition of the word transgender in keeping with the recommendation of the standing committe on the transgender persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016.
The word "neither wholly male nor female" to describe a transgender person has been removed, as per the advice of the Standing Committee.
The Supreme Court in 2014 recognised the community as a third gender entitled to the same rights and constitutional protection as other citizens.
It called for an end to discrimination based on gender against those who do not conform to the gender assigned to them at birth. The court also ruled that transgender persons had a right to make decisions about themselves, express themselves and participate in community life.
Earlier, the bill defined a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. The source from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said, "The recommendations were looked into and changes have been incorporated."
The Bill with changes will be tabled in the Parliament for the Winter Session starting December 15.
The Committee, chaired by the BJP Member of Lok Sabha, Ramesh Bais, includes 17 Lok Sabha Members and 10 Rajya Sabha Members. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 2, 2016 and referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment on September 8, 2016, for examination and report.
On November 23, signature campaign was launched which was supported by 73 rights organisations within India and 43 from across the world.
The Bill was rejected by the groups for being 'trans-exclusionary and regressive'. There were protests on social media and streets, letters were sent to the PMO and Ministry of Social Justice. Various NGOs and experts like Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Amnesty International, Lawyers Collective, All India Hijra Transgender Samiti, and Dr Kaveri Rajaraman appeared before the committee to express their views and make submissions.
Among other recommendations incorporated in the Bill, as suggested by the Standing Committee, "New clause defining family has been included. The government will recognise the group they live with as family, also no transgender person including a child shall be separated from parents or immediate family on the ground of being transgender except on order of competent court. Earlier child was not mentioned," added the source.
The Bill now has provision for coverage of medical expenses for transgender people allowing them to go for sex reassignment surgery, hormonal therapy and other issues. National Council, proposed in the bill, has now also been authorised to redress the grievances of the transgender persons.
The source added that “Provision of recommendation required from district screening committee for issuance of certificate (if there is any change in the gender of transgender person after issuance of certificate) has been done away with.
Also, now every establishment, irrespective of how many people are employed there, will have to designate a person as complaint officer. Earlier, only establishments with 100 or more people could provide for setting up for the office of complaint officer.
"Now this minimum requirement of 100 persons in any establishment for having a complaint officer has been removed, even if you have 10 members you have to have a CO," added the source.