‘A narrative which needs to be changed’
SRINAGAR: To ensure the right to life of transgenders in Jammu and Kashmir, the J&K High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to take a fresh census of transgenders in the state within a timeline and specifying their geographical distribution so that they can be brought into the mainstream.
The court said, “Transgenders are as much humans as the other two genders and have every right to life.”
The direction was passed after petitioner Aijaz Ahmed Bund informed court that as the per 2011 census, more than 4,000 transgenders live in Kashmir and face marginalisation and disownment by their families. He further submitted that transgender people face difficulty in accessing facilities in every sphere from education to health care as there is no option for the third gender available on most forms.
Hearing the PIL on transgenders, the division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe remarked that transgenders are a visible minority but yet are treated as invisible. Remarking on the matter, the Court said, “We are informed that no fresh census has been undertaken since 2011. It is unfortunate that no such process has been taken from 2011, we direct that census of transgender community be taken with a given timeline so that it would be effected and completed. The census must also include geographic distribution of transgenders’ population to address any marginalisation, so that they can be brought into mainstream.”
The court while considering the issues faced by transgenders directed that steps must be taken by the state authorities to ensure that transgenders don’t face marginalisation.
The court said, “Steps taken by the respondents so far as to ensure the right to life of transgenders ,in view of Supreme Court directions passed in a petition titled National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India, 2014, have to be implemented, and we further direct respondents to produce the form with the inclusion of third gender option before this bench so that the community of these people are entitled to education and other basic facilities.”
Chief Justice Mittal remarked that every human being has to right to life and so have the transgenders.
In the above mentioned petition titled National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India, the transgenders have sought court directions to the government for implementation of the said judgment in J&K with a plea that clear directions of the apex court with respect to rights of transgenders be implemented. However, the state has been unable to make headway in this direction.
The PIL states that the government must acknowledge transgenders as marginalised and vulnerable section of society and introduce reservations in government jobs and educational institutions. It also states that a monthly welfare fund be maintained for them besides providing them adequate social security.
“The social and economic problems faced by transgenders are known to everyone, and the way they are being left out by the families and the society at large is a narrative which needs to be changed. The primary aspect is that we are all human beings and they deserve the same rights as anyone else,” said one of the petitioners.