New Delhi, Apr 15: A year after the Supreme Court's landmark judgement granting them the right to self-identify their gender, the transgender community says much still needs to be done for 'social recognition.'
"A year has passed but the plight of our community remains the same. There are few places where our gender has been recognised but still a lot of work needs to be done," says Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist.
Tripathi, along with members from her community, celebrated anniversary of the SC judgment at Jantar Mantar here today.
The occasion saw them pledging their eyes to the Eye Bank Association of India.
"The third gender category has been recognised in certain legal documents in certain states but where is the recognition for us in hospitals and in education institutions? "In hospitals they don't know where to put us. There are no separate bathrooms for us. Such issues need to be looked into," says Amitava Sarkar a transgender activist from Kolkata.
In its order on April 15 last year, the apex court had said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.
Also, in July last year, the UGC had notified transgenders as the third gender to enable them to be eligible for scholarship schemes and fellowship programmes in higher educational institutions.
The SC had asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward. However, Sarkar says she feels that discrimination of the trans community can only be stopped if children can be taught the difference between all the three genders in school.
"The problem is at the grassroot level. If children can be taught about different sexual orientations of all the three genders then there will be no dropouts of such children or individuals from schools or colleges. We can pursue our dream of higher studies and make a living," Sarkar said.
Abhina Aher, chairperson of the South Asian transgender community says the need of the hour is to spread awareness about the rights and facilities available for the trans community, including reaching out to those who have not yet "come out".
"You have us but you don't want accept us. A total of 40 lakh ninety thousand are registered as third gender in the Census because they have come out and identified themselves," Aher says.
"Corporates too should come forward and give us an opportunity to work with them," she says.
Meanwhile, Tripathi has urged the government to open a dialogue with the trans community on issues like education, health, medical facilities, equal opportunity to work, social integration and proper census.