Before we try to understand transgenders and the problems they face, let us first look into some basic concepts and terms, we are usually ignorant of.
Firstly, the difference that lies between gender and sex. Sex is a term which is used to refer to the biological characteristics alone- for example, genitals and hormone levels. Gender, on the other hand, is dependent on a variety of factors based on someone's personal, cultural and social influences and their preferences. As such, there is no standard definition for gender, so it is a difficult term to explain.
If the biological sex assigned to you at birth aligns with your gender identity, then you belong in the 'cisgender' category. For example, if you were declared as 'male' at birth, and you identify yourself as male later on in life also, then you fall in the cis-male group. And yes, you are part of the privileged cisgender group. However, if your biological sex doesn't align with your gender identity, then you are a part of the transgender community.
Transgenders (sometimes shortened as trans) undergo a lot of struggles, even from their childhood, because of the way society perceives them. It is the social responsibility of each one of us, to make sure they lead an easy and more peaceful life. Now, what is it that we could do about it? The first and foremost step would be to educate ourselves and this is what I hope to achieve through this article. Only once we understand them and their problems, can we take measures to help them.
More than ever, coming out proves to be a difficult time for trans people. They end up being alienated from the society as a whole. In India, they end up being abused by their own families and friends. People treat it like a ‘mental disease’ which needs to be cured. And the trans people are left in a helpless state as there is no one they can turn to help for. They are harassed even by police officers and other officials. They lose out of employment opportunities as no one is willing to hire them. They are left with no option but to resort to begging.
The Trans Bill which was released by the Lok Sabha recently has been met with much furore. The bill fails to define the term Transgender in an acceptable manner. Moreover it criminalised begging. Around 90% of transgenders earn their livelihood through begging. Criminalising begging is equivalent to snatching away their only source of income. The fact that the bill provides them with no other alternative is completely unfair. They are not provided with any form of reservation, even after considering the current employment status of majority of transgenders. It also fails to give them adequate protection against sexual harassment, rape and other forms of abuse.
Social and legal factors continue to rule against Transgenders and provide them with hurdles they cannot cross. And the continuous mistreatment from their own families, put them under a lot of pressure too. The atrocities and discrimination against Trans people have to be stopped. And it has to start at grassroot level. So next time someone makes an insensitive remark regarding transgenders, make sure you don't laugh it off. Ensure, you let the person know it was a downright derogatory comment and say it cannot be excused. That can be the little bit that we do for their welfare. We could also sign up to be part of groups that work towards the improving the living conditions of Transgenders.