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Allowing gender self-identification


The Spanish government approved the first draft of a bill that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy.


GS-II: Social Justice (Government Interventions and Policies, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Government Policies), GS-I: Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is gender self-identification?
  2. What is gender self-identification?
  3. Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act
  4. What is the process for declaring one’s desired sex in India?
  5. National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP)

What is gender self-identification?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has clearly demarcated the difference between these often interchangeably used terms.

According to WHO, Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women while Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

What is gender self-identification?

  • Self-identification, or ‘self-id’, is the concept that a person should be allowed to legally identify with the gender of their choice by simply declaring so, and without facing any medical tests.
  • This has been a long-held demand of trans-right groups around the world, including in India, as prejudice against trans people remains rampant.
  • In Europe, this issue has remained divisive not only on liberal-conservative lines, but also within the LGBT community.
  • While some believe that the current processes for declaring one’s desired gender are lengthy, expensive and degrading, some feminist and gay-rights groups insist that such a law could endanger women and cause more gay teenagers to be told that they might be trans and thus encouraged towards hormones and surgery.
  • Feminist forums that believe that sex is not something which can be chosen have insisted that allowing self-identification could put at risk all laws that specifically prevent discrimination against women, and have instead asked lawmakers to look at concerns that they say are more pressing, such as the gender pay gap.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act

  • The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes transmen and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
  • According to the Act, a Certificate of identity for Transgender persons can be obtained by the transgender person by making an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
  • The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to:
    • Education, employment, healthcare.
    • Access to or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public.
    • Right to movement, right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property.
    • Opportunity to hold public or private office.
    • Access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
  • The Bill also seeks to provide rights of health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centers, and sex reassignment surgeries.
  • It also states that the government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
  • It calls for establishing a National Council for Transgender persons (NCT).
  • It states that the offences against transgender persons will attract imprisonment between six months and two years, in addition to a fine.

What is the process for declaring one’s desired sex in India?

  • In India, the rights of transgender persons are governed by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.
  • Under the Rules, an application to declare gender is to be made to the District Magistrate. Parents can also make an application on behalf of their child.
  • A much-criticised previous draft of regulations required transgender persons to go through a medical examination for declaring their desired sex. This requirement was omitted in the final Rules, which state that the District Magistrate will get the application processed based on the affidavit submitted declaring the gender identity of any person, without any medical or physical examination – and then issue an identification number to the applicant, which may be quoted as proof of application.
  • As per the Rules, state governments have also been directed to constitute welfare boards for transgender persons to protect their rights and interests, and facilitate access to schemes and welfare measures framed by the Centre.

National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP)

  • The National Council for Transgender Persons is India’s First and is a Statutory Body since it is formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
  • It is constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The main aim of the National Council for Transgender Persons is to mainstream the transgender community’s concerns, focusing on livelihood issues as well as to raise awareness about the trans community, so that transgender persons are accepted within families and in the larger society.
  • Another aim is to ensure that transgender welfare boards are set up in all States and essential needs of the transgender community, like housing, food, healthcare and education are met.
  • Functions of the National Council for Transgender Persons are:
    • Advising the Central government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons.
    • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
    • Reviewing and coordinating the activities of all the departments.
    • Redressing grievances of transgender persons.
    • Performing such other functions as prescribed by the Centre.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024