We are a country that celebrates diversity in culture, creed, religions so vibrantly that the whole world talks about our ‘Unity in Diversity’ concept, but the ugliest side of our society is not accepting all the genders equally. Even though legally every gender is treated in a respectful manner, when it comes to transgenders there is still a taboo in our society. Unfortunately, we are in a society where gender plays a major role in judging people. Although the ‘third gender’ name is given to the transgenders they don’t get to live with peace and harmony.
History and its significance:
In our country, there are socio-cultural groups of transgenders including hijras, jogtas, jogappas, Sakhis and Aradhis. They all face severe discrimination, sexual harassment in every part of this country on a daily basis. These communities are not something that came into existence in the recent centuries, if we look back in history, they have a record of almost 4000 years. Including mythological times, there is mention of napunsaka in our Vedic literature as well. Jain literature gives them a name of ‘Psychological sex’. So how did this concept of inequality arise in our country? It was under British rule that they passed an act called the ‘Criminals Tribes act’ in 1871 according to which they were treated as criminals and after which the whole situation in the nation changed. Even though the law was repealed in 1949 but the discrimination continued for the transgender communities.
The major challenges faced by the transgender community in India are,
1)Discrimination in the educational setup and workplace:
The majority of the people in this community are either illiterates or have less education, because of which they are not able to get involved much in the educated section of the society. According to a census which was conducted in 2011 the population of transgender people was 4.9 lakhs and in which only 46% of people were literate which is extremely less compared to the normal population which has a literacy rate of 74%. According to the right to education act, they are categorized as a ‘disadvantage group’ which means they have 25% reservation as an economically weaker section. The reasons why they are less educated can be listed as poverty, exclusion from own family and friends, mental health issues. Since they are not given education opportunities, this further results in not finding employment and even for those who pursue their education with full of struggles they are not given the same respect and value in the workplace.
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2) Social exclusion and homelessness
Since the transgender communities lack education and employment opportunities they are looked upon as a lower class by society resulting in exclusion. Their self-esteem and self-confidence hit really hard because of this exclusion and they end up taking undesirable jobs.
They are thrown out of their own homes and not accepted by their own families or they escape from their houses due to abusive relationships, because of which they don’t have a shelter or a place they can call home.
3) Dealing with Transphobia and Psychological stress
Compared to the people who identify themselves as heterosexuals, the transgender community faces a lot of harassment, discrimination, and intolerance from society. Due to the moral, religious, and societal beliefs few individuals turn out to be transphobic which results in attacks, negativity, workplace harassment, etc. Because of all the above-mentioned reasons the community faces a lot of mental health-related issues and that might actually lead them to take negative decisions such as self-harming, suicidal thoughts, etc. They go through loneliness, anxiety, and insecurities because of society.
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4) Lack of legal protection and victims to hate crimes:
The Transgender community is not legally protected as much as any other community and because of this, they are easily victimized for the crimes that they didn’t even commit. They undergo a lot of violence and become victims of hate crimes. A lot of police departments are insensitive when it comes to these communities and do not even register the complaints they come with. They are oppressed by the police officers which shows how inefficient we are as citizens.
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The transgender group consists of hijras, jogtas, jogappas, Sakhis, and Aradhis as their sub-communities, and all of these people go through a lot of challenges on an everyday basis. These problems include social exclusion, Marginalization, Lack of education and workplace opportunities, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, mental issues, extreme poverty, violence, victim of hate crimes. Our country has passed an act(Transgender protection act) that aims at protecting their rights and they are not subjected to any kind of discrimination in healthcare, education, and employment. Our responsibility as civilians is to treat them equally and give them equal respect as any other gender