MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, Jan 9 - The transgender community of Assam will get a welfare policy before the upcoming general elections, and the draft policy has been uploaded by the Department of Social Welfare for public opinion.
According to the draft policy, the Government of Assam, for the first time, has provided Rs 2 crore for 2018-19 to the social welfare department to undertake various welfare schemes for the transgender community, which shall have to be implemented at the district level through the District Level Transgender Welfare or Justice Board.
The schemes include preparation of a database, identification and issuance of gender identity certificates, monthly pension scheme for transgender persons in the age group of 40-60 years, pre-matric scholarship for transgender students studying in classes VII to X, post-matric scholarship for transgender students studying in classes XI and above, scholarship to transgender students pursuing medical or technical courses, rehabilitation grants to transgender youths or persons and provision of a shelter home in Guwahati.
The aim and objective of the policy is to bring those people into the mainstream, provide social protection to transgender persons with proper educational facilities, health facilities and basic amenities such as public sanitation, housing facilities and provision of employment along with a mechanism for issuance of transgender identity cards scrutinised by a psychiatrist and psychological clinical counsellor.
The policy also aims to encourage all government departments and public authorities including the police to extend a non-discriminatory treatment to transgenders and provide them barrier-free access to education, public transport, parks, railway platforms, health, social security and other services.
Moreover, it also aims to sensitise parents, teachers, students, doctors, police and other members of the society along with armed forces, paramilitary forces, and other Central government forces including police to end discrimination in every form.
The Department of Social Welfare has also pointed out various issues and problems of the transgender community in the State, based on various social and economic criteria in the draft policy.
According to the draft policy, most transgender students of Assam drop out before their matriculation because of mental and physical harassment by family and society that makes studies impossible. Transgender students are unable to participate in an equal manner in the academic environment due to neglect and discrimination by classmates and teachers.
The draft also points out that there is lack of family support or special educational quota or reservation or separate classes and most of the transgender people are denied equal and emergency treatment in government hospitals.
According to the draft policy a huge percentage of the transgender community said that they have experiences of being denied jobs based on their choice of clothing and behavioural traits.
A huge number of transgenders have a monthly income of Rs 500 to Rs 1,500. Many transgenders earn money during the wedding season.
The draft policy also says that some of the transgenders face harassment from the Railway Police Force and many of them have been ill-treated by the armed forces and paramilitary forces at railway stations, and majority of transgenders do not file complaints against violence because of fear and due to apprehensions about their gender identity. “Again, many transgenders are harassed through gross violation of human rights and dignity as they are made nude inside police stations to verify whether they have male or female genitals,” it said.
The draft policy states that many transgenders are unable to register their gender identity the way they choose in application forms, identity cards or other services.
Most transgenders do not reveal their gender identity at work due to fear of discrimination, and some transgenders also hide their gender identity from their families and friends. Some transgenders also have a sense of shame about the dissonance between their body and gender identity and some also suffer from suicidal tendencies.
The list of issues also said that most transgenders have not changed their physical appearances through medicines or surgery. Some transgenders are of the view that if they change their physical appearance, they won’t be accepted by their families and society.