Kerala became the second state in India to acknowledge transgender rights and formulate a governmental policy for them
As mentioned in the Supreme Court Judgement, the policy recognises the rights of the transgenders to identify themselves as male, female or intersex
It ensures their right to social, economic and cultural opportunities
Life has always been harsh for the India’s third gender. Be it looking for a job or home, it has never come easy. These people are sidelined from the society for a reason that they are not responsible for- physical appearance! As a result, their life becomes miserable and they do not find a way to live it any better.
Following the footsteps of Odisha government, Kerala became the second state to have a policy for transgenders. Last year, in 2015, they released a governmental policy which stated that the transgender people have the right to the following:
Identify themselves as male, female or intersex as per their reality
Avail all the social, economic and cultural opportunities and resources
Equal employment opportunities as everyone else and pension for those above 60 years
To live a life without violence
Additionally, the government aims to set up a Transgender Justice Board which would be headed by the Minister of Social Justice, Kerala.
There is heavy discrimination between transgenders and other genders. They are maltreated by people and their rights are barely acknowledged properly. They are not given medical care or pension schemes. So, Kerala Governmentand the Metro Rail Corporation has decided to give them employment opportunities, reported thebetterindia.com.
“Transgenders face a lot of difficulties. They are forced into undesirable occupations. So as an experiment we have developed an idea to rehabilitate them. Under Kudumbasree itself, we have planned to employ transgenders in Kochi metro. We know that our experiment will be a success… Kochi metro will be a venue for many experiments. So first we decided to make use of Kudumbasree, women self-help groups in many operation sections. Unlike other metros, Kochi metro will have more women employees, it will be a woman run metro,” Alias George, Kochi Metro Rail Managing Director, has said in a recent KMMRL Facebook post.
Thus, Kerala has not only promised the transgenders a better world but are actually working to achieve that end.
-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.
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.”
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.”
Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.
The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.
Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.
Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.
Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.
The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.
The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”
Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.