First transgender athletic meeting
May 3, 2017 | Expert Insights
What does this mean for the transgender community?
On the 29th of April, In a bid to promote equality for the transgender community in the state, a one-day athletic meet was organized by the state government of Kerala. Around hundred people participated in the event held at Central Stadium in state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Around 132 transgenders from 12 districts of the state took part in the event. This is not the first time when the state took initiative for the equal rights of transgender. Earlier in December 2016, India's first transgender school was opened in Kochi with an aim ensure equal opportunities for the community.
The athletic meet
At least 130 athletes belonging to the third sex participated in the event. It was well appreciated by a large crowd of onlookers at the Central stadium in Kerala. As it was the first of its kind, there were only six disciplines — 100, 200 and 400m sprints and 4x100m relay, shot put and long jump. Next time organisers are planning to introduce more events. The transgenders were really blown away by the chorus of cheers and encouragement. This event had no age bracket. But organizers plan that the next time they would classify events as junior, senior and other levels and they hope to make it an annual event now.
Guaranteed yet denied
The rule of law states that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Yet, the transgenders are in a constant battle as they have to fight oppression, abuse and discrimination. In 2014 Rights of Transgender Persons Bill was passed yet they are deprived of their basic rights. Article 14 guarantees right to equality, article 15 right against discrimination and article 16 provides equality of opportunity. The transgenders are deprived of these basic rights. They do not have access to schools, social and cultural participation and have restricted access to education, health care and public places. They are treated as untouchables which is a violation of article 17 of the constitution. Article 21 provides protection of life but they are deprived access to health services, sanitation and good standard of living due to non-acceptance in the society and economic reasons.
Determining the right to personal freedom and self-determination, the Court observed that the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned. Yet they are questioned about their identity and marginalised. The community is deprived of political rights as they are not given the right to contest election, right to vote (Article 326), employment, to get licenses, etc. Section 377 of IPC criminalizes same sex relations among consenting adults. This makes the Transgender community vulnerable to police harassment, extortion and abuse.
The major problem that the transgenders face is non acceptance in the society which leads to violation of their rights and identity. Efforts should be made by the government to start education institutions for them which would also make them employable. Government should provide incentives like free medical check-ups, pensions, loans etc. The society should organise public awareness campaigns and social awareness schemes to erase the social stigma. Special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues should be encouraged. The government should make laws against the atrocities faced by them also we could have appeal courts for the transgenders for the redressal of their grievances.