Legal Training for Transgender Persons - Transgender Persons Act, 2019

In the wake of a number of laws that affect Transgender lives and bodies drastically, which include the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and a number of bills and legislations that are in the pipeline such as the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 and the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, which though was passed by the Lok Sabha and lapsed due to the elections in 2019, is all set to be introduced in the parliament in the next session. Though these are the three laws that are prima facie affect Transgender Persons and our bodies, there is an urgent need to change a number of laws to make them more inclusive of rights of Transgender Persons and take cognisance of the position of transgender persons both from a historical perspective and the present narrative from a position of providing recognition to Transgender Persons through NALSA Judgement and then the number of issues that preceded the narrative while forming the Transgender Persons Act, 2019.

West Bengal

West Bengal is caught in a curious position, largely because the strength of the movement in the state stands unparalleled when compared to other states in the country. When contrasted with the narrative that state has chosen to take, where post the establishment of the Transgender Persons Welfare Board in West Bengal, there has been no action either by the welfare board or the state at large towards advancement of rights of Transgender Persons in the state. In the wake of such government apathy, there is both a number of state induced violence that against which there is no action taken and there is violence by the society at large against which there is no action taken by the state.

The state at every point has resisted in following through with cases wherein Transgender Persons have been assaulted, physically and sexually wherein the state has refused to take cognisance of such action. Even in cases wherein the state has taken cognisance, it has refused to proceed ahead with criminalising the perpetrators and taking action against them. In addition to this there are a number of instance when the police has forcefully asked Transgender Persons to strip to check if they were, Transgender or not. There are other cases wherein the police has forcefully felt up the torso of persons to check if they had breasts or not. These actions are not just illegal and unlawful but also are criminal acts of sexual harassment, assault and intimidation.

Furthermore in cases where violence has been inflicted by the rest of the society, the law enforcement agencies have stayed back and tried to carry out resolutions among between the perpetrators and the victim and refused to translate the criminal act into FIRs and punitive action being taken against the perpetrators.  It is in this background that there was ascertained to be an urgent need to take a training for Transgender Persons and Groups across West Bengal on the laws that protect them and newer laws and legislations that would have an adverse impact on the lives of Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and Intersex Persons. Both the knowledge about the laws and how to challenge the narrative of oppression and marginalisation was essential to carry out a meeting of such a scale.