New Delhi, November 27, 2016: In a commendable move, Indian Railways and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have included “transgender as the third gender” in the option in ticket reservation and cancellation forms alongside male and female.
According to PTI, “The decision which was taken on a representation made by a lawyer will include the facility for reservations and cancellations, both online as well offline.”
The Delhi-based lawyer made the representation after the Delhi High Court in February asked him to approach the Railway Ministry while disposing of his petition.
The ministry in its circular referred to the direction of the apex court of April 2014 and said that eunuchs, hijras, apart from binary gender, be treated as third gender for the protection of their rights.
“Supreme Court (in the judgement) has directed that Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as the third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the parliament and the State Legislature. “
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“It has, therefore, been decided to include the third gender/transgender option alongside male/female in reservation /cancellation requisition form. This information will be captured by the system and tickets to transgender will be issued on full fare,” the circular stated.
Before the High Court, Advocate Jamshed Ansari in his PIL had alleged violation of Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution by IRCTC, by non-inclusion of “transgender/third gender” as a gender option in its reservation and cancellation forms.
He had also sought compliance of the apex court judgment in which it directed the Centre as well as the state governments to recognise transgender as the third sex, and to give them with the benefits provided to socially and economically backward classes.
The advocate further demanded reserved seats and special coaches for the transgender community in all trains, for their protection and care.
West Bengal, October 18, 2017: “People almost treated me as an untouchable, and even passed abusive comments. But now people even come to me often requesting me to mediate in family disputes,” said an evidently ecstatic Joyita Mondal Mahi.
If we tell you about this Lok Adalat judge and her journey- tales of her struggle and battles against her family and the society at large, you would have nothing short of immense respect for her.
If we told you about her sexuality next, it may elevate your curiosity a little.
But what if we told you Joyita Mahi Mandal is India’s first transgender judge? Would it make a difference?
Should it make a difference?
From Joyonto to Joyita – Early Life
Joyita, who was born male and given the name Joyonto by her middle-class family, used to play games usually played by girls at the age of 3. Assuming that these interests would soon take the ‘regular route’ towards more boys-oriented activities, family members and parents ignored a young Joyonto’s behavior. However, the change never happened.
According to reports, Joyonto was once scolded for wearing make-up, a behavior unusual for boys to partake; subjected to bullying from classmates for feminine gesticulation, Joyonto was forced to leave school.
Lack of support from the family and school-mates alike forced Joyonto to escape from home in 2009, after which days turned to months, and then years, begging for a livelihood and sleeping on the roads.
As a transgender forced to beg on the streets to a social worker and finally assuming the chair as India’s first transgender judge at the Lok Adalat in Islampur in the North Dinajpur district of Bengal, Joyita’s journey has been extraordinary!
Challenging the Society
“Transgender” is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of identities, one of them identified as ‘hijras’ – people whose gender identities do not match with their biological sex.
Hijras, a term commonly implied for the transgender community in India, are often looked down upon by the Indian society. They are mocked for their mannerisms, are often made to feel ‘different’, and labeled as suitable only for begging or unskilled work.
Life was no different for Joyonto on the streets.
Now transitioned into Joyita, she demanded nothing less than what she deserved – respect and dignity that every human being deserves, despite their sexual orientation. A struggle that was not easy, her efforts eventually paid off and she crossed several milestones.
Joyita’s Efforts For A Larger Good
According to a report, Joyita established an NGO by the name of ‘Dinajpur Notun Alo Society’ to cater to the transgender community in North Dinajpur district. She had been working on a range of issues related to the transgender community since 2011
It was there that she got in touch with her ‘godfather’ Thanduk Sherpa, Islampur’s Deputy Collector and Magistrate.
Her godfather introduced Joyita to a former additional district judge Subrata Poley, who, impressed by her zeal and enthusiasm to fight against gender bias, recommended Joyita’s name for a judge in the Lok Adalat (civil court).
Finally, Joyita Mahi Mondal was appointed as India’s first transgender judge in Islampur Lok Adalat on July 8 this year
A Lok Adalat comprises of a senior judge, an advocate, and a social worker. Joyita, as a social worker, has assumed the position of a judge. And now enters the premises in a white ambassador- a vehicle categorized for government officials.
Has Joyita Been Subjected To Discrimination At The Adalat?
Joyita’s appointment as India’s first transgender judge was welcomed by friends and supporters from the transgender community who had flooded her Facebook account with congratulatory messages.
Sometimes I can feel negative vibes from those whose cases I adjudicate — strange gaze, or body language. However, I must add that none of them has insulted me. At times, a few are just surprised to see a transgender on the chair of judge.” – Joyita Mondal, as told to Hindustan Times
However, according to her, the environment in the Adalat is very professional and she has never faced any discrimination. She also added that the fellow judges in the court have also been extremely cooperative and treat her with dignity.
However, India’s first transgender judge is yet to gain acceptance from her family and parents.
The Long Battle Ahead
After the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in 2014 recognizing the third gender under the law that is neither male nor female, attention was brought where it was due – on one of India’s most marginalized groups, transgenders. The ruling redefined their rights and the state’s responsibility to ensure their development and growth.
Things have certainly looked up thereafter for members of the Indian transgender community- whether it was about finding employment in public offices or seeking admissions in National Universities.
However, the battle has not been won completely.
There is limited data on the total estimated population of the transgender community in India, but anecdotal evidence amounts it between a half a million to two million people.
While members of the transgender community have legally gained recognition, the decision is yet to seep down to the root level as they continue to face criticism and alienation from the larger society.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 aims to ensure greater involvement of the trans people in the medical sector and welfare schemes and programmes, thus allowing for a more inclusive society. The Bill is currently pending approval.
In the words of India’s first transgender judge, ““More time is required for the society to change and we have to give it time.”
New Delhi, Oct 5: RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday appeared before the CBI here in response to join the investigation into alleged irregularities in the IRCTC Hotels Corruption case.
Lalu Prasad appeared at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters on Lodhi Road at around 11.30 a.m. “His questioning has started,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS.
The CBI on September 26 issued fresh summons — the third in a month — to the RJD chief and his son Tejashwi Yadav in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp contract case.
The CBI move comes after Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav skipped two earlier summons.
The CBI on July 5 filed a case for alleged IRCTC Hotels Corruption against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav. The allotment of contracts for IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railway Minister.
The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar in lieu of bribe in the form of a plot of prime land in Bihar, the CBI said.
A preliminary CBI inquiry found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia.
The Enforcement Directorate has questioned Ahluwalia.
The ED had on July 27 registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and was probing Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.(IANS)
Cambridge, October 5, 2017 : Murray Edwards College at the Cambridge University, in a first of its kind step, has announced to consider applications from all students who ‘identify’ as female. The college wishes to support students who do not wish to define themselves as either male or female.
According to the official statement released by the college, the move comes from an understanding that asserts that gender is not binary. “Many of us within the college…have concerns that narrow gender identities and the expectations associated with them are damaging both to individuals and to wider society,” it said.
Formerly known as New Hall, Murray Edwards has, up till now, been a women-only Cambridge college.
Transgender students applications are now being taken into account for the 2018 intake. Alternatively, the criteria would also apply to those who wish to transfer to the college during their degree.
Gender issues have been at the centre of popular debates in the recent past. Due to increased attention and awareness, these exists a greater understanding of the complexities of gender in the present societies. The move by the council of Murray Edwards comes as an attempt to open their doors to ‘all exceptional women’.
Dame Barbara Stocking, the president of the Murray Edwards College was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “In order that we remain true to our mission of being open to all exceptional young women we recognize that it is right for anyone who identifies as female, regardless of their born gender, to be able to apply to study with us.”
The institute previously followed the admissions policy applicable to Cambridge University’s two other women-only colleges- Newnham and Lucy Cavendish. According to prevailing policies, these institutes accept applicants who are legally recognized as women.
However, Murray Edwards will now be opening its doors to students who ‘identify’ as a woman at the time of applications and to those applicants who had been identified as male at birth but have ‘taken steps to live in the female gender’.
According to reports, Lucy Cavendish is also expected to espouse a similar change after a council meeting.
The move has garnered mixed responses from the larger community.
On one side, supporters of gender diversity and the transgender community have appreciated the college for their decision. A charity organization, Mermaids took to Twitter to thank the college authorities for “embracing all young women.”
However, like every coin has two sides, the college authorities have also received significant backlash ever since the formal announcement was made.
The decision has been termed ‘ridiculous’ and ‘illogical’ by several feminists. A former lecturer at Newnham told The Telegraph, “If Murray Edwards really don’t believe that gender is binary, then they really shouldn’t be a single sex college.”