Delhi Govt Scores Zero On Trans Welfare

Delhi Government Scores a Zero on Transgender Welfare

A civilization’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest citizens, and Delhi has failed its transgender population all this while. The time for change is now, writes Aqsa Shaikh.

Last Updated on October 8, 2022

As the assembly elections in Gujarat and MCD elections in Delhi get closer, the pitch is rising on the investigation into alleged scams by the Delhi Government. Every day we read about some new scam that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) wishes to get investigated. But all this while there is a ‘scam’ that the city government is doing with its underprivileged Transgender community – the scam of denying them their due legal rights. 

In 2019, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act came into force, followed by the notification of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules in 2020. Even two years later, these legislations have not been implemented in their true spirit. It’s a shame that Delhi has not yet notified the Transgender Persons Rules and has not made a Transgender Welfare Board that is mandated under Transgender Persons Rules 2020. Delhi does not have a Transgender Protection Cell.

Under Transgender Persons Rules 2020, every State government is mandated to set up a Transgender Protection Cell to monitor cases of offences against transgender persons and to ensure timely registration, investigation, and prosecution of such offences. Also, there is no Transgender Welfare Policy by the State. 

The Delhi government is not just insulting the Parliament by not implementing the Transgender Act but also disrespecting the judiciary by not paying heed to the orders of the courts. The NALSA versus Union of India Judgment of 2014 by the Supreme Court regarding the rights and welfare of transgender persons doesn’t find it being implemented in toto. The Delhi High Court, in its order dated 27 July, 2022 in Srishti Madurai Educational Research versus Government of NCT of Delhi and others, had given time of eight weeks to the Delhi government to decide on the recommendations by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR). 

The DCPCR had advised Delhi government after deliberating on a complaint filed by this writer, “After careful deliberations, the Commission is of the considered opinion that the Government of Delhi should declare a ban on medically unnecessary, sex-selective surgeries on intersex infants and children except in cases of life-threatening situations.” While these eight weeks have passed, we have not heard from the Delhi Government on what decision it has taken on this issue. It may be noted that Intersex persons are included in the ambit of Transgender persons in the Transgender Persons Act.

When it comes to education, the State has the gloomy data of having zero transgender children in its schools. The UDISE+ survey report 2019-20 revealed that there are zero transgender students in Delhi schools. When it comes to transgender toilets, there is hardly any progress made in the State – whether in public places, government offices, or educational institutions. In its order, the Delhi government had asked all institutions to ensure the availability of Transgender toilets. As an interim measure, it had stated that all toilets earmarked for Persons with Disability could be designated for use by Transgender persons. However, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, of which the Delhi government is a part, ran into a controversy when it used offensive signage and inappropriate term for 347 repurposed transgender toilets at its metro stations. This was corrected when a complaint was filed with the National Human Rights Commission by this writer.

There are hardly any provisions for gender-affirming surgeries in Delhi. The Delhi Government has failed to cater to the health needs of its Transgender patients. There are no dedicated queues, no inclusive gender markers on OPD and IPD forms, no separate wards, or provision of gender-affirming surgeries in Government Hospitals. As per Transgender Persons Rules, separate wards for transgender persons and washrooms in establishments were to be created within two years of coming into force of these Rules. These two years have passed, but transgender toilets or transgender wards are nowhere to be seen. A Centre of Excellence for Transgender Health was to come up at AIIMS Delhi, but the same is also not operational yet.

Delhi is a laggard when it comes to issuing ID cards for Transgender Persons. As per data available on the National Portal for Transgender Persons, of 211 applications received in Delhi, only 58 have been processed. Most of the pending applications have crossed the 30 days period, which is the time during which District Magistrates should have disposed of the applications. What is also worrying is that of tens of thousands of Transgender persons in the State, only 211 have applied for a Transgender ID card. 

On 25 September 2022, Delhi Commission for Women took suo-moto cognizance of issues faced by transgender persons in Delhi and issued a notice to the Social Welfare Department of the Delhi government asking it regarding notification of Transgender Rules. It also asked the Delhi government to provide details of any shelter homes for Transgender persons in the State. Regarding the issuance of TG ID cards, it has asked about standard operating procedures followed, the steps taken to streamline the process and assist the transgender persons approaching the DM office for the application of certificates. Previously the National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the State Government based on the complaint by this writer. NHRC had issued a notice to the Social Welfare Department regarding the non-implementation of welfare measures for Transgender persons in the State. The Department replied that it is a work in progress. A year has passed since then.

While we have Court orders and legislation in place for the welfare of Transgender Persons, the national capital is not doing what it is duty-bound to do to secure the rights of its Transgender citizens. This dereliction of duty by the State is causing the erosion of trust that Transgender persons have in the government to secure their rights and ensure its welfare. That this is happening in the capital of the country, having a government that prides itself in its reforms in health and education and providing free basic services to its citizens, is ludicrous. 

As we near the state municipal corporation elections, we hope that the issue of primary education, WASH facilities, and primary healthcare for transgender people, which are supposed to be provided by municipal corporations, are taken up as election issues. We also hope that the LG and CM will look into this matter which has been time and again taken up by agencies like NHRC, DCW, and DCPCR. 

A civilization’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest citizens, and Delhi has failed its transgender population all this while. The time for change is now.

Dr Aqsa Shaikh (She/Her) is an out and proud trans woman. She is one of India’s first transgender doctors. She is an Associate Professor of Community Medicine, Nodal Officer for Covid Vaccination Centre, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jamia Hamdard, Delhi. Aqsa is an academician and researcher and is a vocal advocate for rights-based gender justice for transgender persons.

 

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