Recognising the Third Gender
Assam and Bihar are the first two states in India, to introduce a category for applicants who identify as transgender.
Consider this, that if you went to get a government job in India. They will ask you for your sex. The choices are only two, male or female. Either you speak lies and get away with it, the other option is that you cannot get a job incase a medical test is involved. If you want to write third gender that is not even an. option.
But finally, Assam has become one of the first few states in the country to add a 'transgender' option in the gender category of the civil service examination form. A total of 42 transgender persons have applied for the combined competitive examination. Bihar also included it some state administrative service examination.
In 2014, a landmark order by the Supreme Court had recognized transgenders as "third gender" who were previously forced to write "male or female" in forms. The same order also directed that transgender persons be admitted into educational institutions and seek employment under the "third gender" or "other" category.
Despite the Supreme Court verdict, the policy had not been implemented almost anywhere. When Atri Kar tried to sit for the same exam in 2017, the exam form had only two options - male or female. After fighting the Central Administrative Tribunal for two years, Kar got an interim order to sit for the examination.
In 2018, 28-year-old Atri Kar became the first transgender person from Bengal to sit for the civil services examination held by the Union Public Service Commission.
The step taken by the Assam government can surely be seen as a step forward in the long fight towards equal rights for the transgender community.
The Transgender Persons Protection of Rights bill prohibits discrimination against transgender persons with regard to things like education, employment and the ability to rent or buy property. It also gives transgender persons a "right to self-perceived identity" but requires them to register with the government if they want to be officially recognized as "transgender."
The way forward
Recently, the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, in a step forward, had dedicated the Noida's Sector-50 metro station for the transgender community. This initiative was taken to give the transgenders an opportunity to connect with the mainstream sections of the society.
Reports suggest that trans persons in India often choose to retain the gender assigned to them at birth in their ID's because the law doesn't accommodate a third, separate gender in property rights or the rights to marry or adopt children.
A trans person also have reported hassles like intrusive medical screening examinations, and multiple forms of identification required by authorities to ascertain whether they're transgender.
The trans community continues to struggle on all fronts from marriage registration, buying family insurance, opening joint accounts to regular social discrimination. Transgender individuals in India often face stigma and systematic exclusion in education and employment.
If India has to become a more just society, it will have to become a more inclusive society. Giving the trans community equal rights to education and jobs is very much part of an egalitarian society. Just writing it in your constitution and books does not make you a society that has equality. It has to bbe part of your ethos. And making your job application forms more inclusive may be a first step in that direction.