Their quest for identity

Their quest  for identity

Oshin Sarkar

Juzar Singh

“We are what we are, we want a normal life, dignified life and a family, we want equal study and work opportunities. How we talk, how we walk, how we behave and how we look is all because of our hormones. We want people to accept us, adjust us and avoid the negativity that comes to their mind when they see us. We, too, are human beings,” said Oshin Sarkar, a transgender student at the Department of Women Studies, PU.

All that they need is people to behave normally with them. They are barely respected and often ridiculed. They have to hide their identities for the fear of being taken to ‘Deras’ for ‘hijras’. Those who somehow manage to reach educational institutes face several difficulties there.

In 2017, the first transgender student at the PU, Dhananjay Chauhan, succeeded in getting separate washrooms on the university campus. In 2015, the PU added a third column for transgenders. Dhananjay Chauhan said society should create a friendly environment for transgenders. “There is a difference between sex and gender, sex is related to a physical state whereas gender is a mental state. Nowadays, one could undergo a surgery for changing sex in Chhattisgarh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu,” said Dhananjay. She says they need separate hostels also as people don’t want to rent their rooms to us.

“If seats are reserved for transgenders, they can come to educational institutes for higher education, their presence in educational institutes and interaction with other students could be helpful in normalising their life. Reservation in jobs and education could help them with social acceptance,” said Dhananjay.

Recently, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, Sasmit Patra, had introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Upper House on March 13 which seeks reservation for transgenders in the Parliament and state assemblies.

Dhananjay Chauhan runs an NGO ‘Saksham’ for the welfare of transgenders. The purpose of the NGO is to pull their community out of the begging practice and provide them with higher education so that they can live with dignity.

Oshin Sarkar has another version about the reservation, separate hostels and washrooms. According to her, these things are needed but what is desperately needed is creating awareness in society. “In a society which is accepting and tolerant, there will be no need for separate accommodations and washrooms. It is sad that people seek our blessings, but don’t accept us,” said Oshin.

Parliament had passed the Transgender Persons Bill, 2019, to protect the fundamental rights of the community, but the law raises concerns as it mandates a two-step procedure in which transgenders can get a ‘transgender certificate’ through self-declaration about their gender. In the second step, they can apply for ‘change in gender certificate’ but it requires surgery and documents confirmed by a medical authority. The WHO recommends that there should be no medical requirement for a person’s self-defined identity.

We need to stop stigmatising identities and accept each in its own beautiful and refreshing way — without this, there is no way ahead for any of us.

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