Transgender bill may offer gender choice

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NEW DELHI: The social justice ministry is learnt to be finalising nine amendments to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, racing against time to introduce the changed draft in the coming session of Parliament.

The definition of transgenders is likely to be changed as recommended by the standing committee of Parliament. As reported by TOI, the Centre plans to tweak the clause in the bill to shift the focus from “biological test” to an individual’s exclusive freedom to choose gender. The other changes are minor in nature which will not alter the legislation substantively. While attempts are being made to introduce the bill in Lok Sabha this month, sources said its fate remained uncertain as the session would be short in which the Centre may have other priorities. The changed bill also has to be cleared by the Cabinet.
Crucially, the Centre is set to reject the recommendations of the standing committee that transgender persons be exempted from the ambit of Section 377 of the IPC which criminalises homosexuality and that the community be included in the Other Backward Classes category. The parliamentary standing committee on social justice, which vetted the bill, found Clause 2(i) “primitive and unscientific”, and said it steered the definition away from the Supreme Court’s Nalsa judgment, which paved the way for a legislation for empowerment of transgenders .
Defining a transgender, the government bill pending in Parliament explains, “Neither wholly female nor wholly male; a combination of female or male; neither female nor male”, and “whose sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to the person at the time of birth”.

The standing committee recommended the definition thus, “A person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men and trans-women (whether or not they have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy etc), gender-queers, and a number of sociocultural identities such as kinnars.”

As reported by TOI, the Centre has decided against exempting the transgender community from Section 377 of the IPC. The standing panel had said transgenders were vulnerable to the application of Section 377.
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