The transgender community in Manipur sees no end to the discrimination against them in various sectors due to lack of proper policy and implementation of the existing policies.
The Government of India had introduced the “Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019” to provide for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare. It prohibits discrimination and social stigma. The Supreme Court had also given a landmark judgment in April 2014 declaring transgender people as ‘third gender’ and affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be applicable to them. However, in Manipur, there appears to be gaps in the implementation of the Act. There is also a lack of specific state policy for the transgender community, and existing policies are not duely implemented, according to an RTI.
An RTI filed by one Keisham Kishan Singh of Koirou Nepram Leirak, Thongju Part II in April 2022 seeking information under section 6 of RTI Act, 2005 revealed that no transgender persons were found employed under the transgender category.
Kishan sought information from all the government departments regarding the number of transgender persons working under the Government of Manipur; policy programme and rules set up by the government for the transgender person; details of budgetary allocation for transgender person or community and other developmental works taken by the government exclusively for the transgender persons.
In response to the RTI filed by Kishan, additional director, department of Employment Exchange, Manipur replied that at present five transgender persons are enrolled at the department, including three at Imphal West Employment Exchange and two at Imphal East Employment Exchange.
With regard to the Social Welfare department, the department authorities replied that there were no records or data of any transgender employees working under the department at present.
It stated that the state does not have specific programme as of now. However, the state government has started to implement ‘gender responsive budget’ which will also consider the recommendations of the third gender in due course of time, it mentioned.
Further, regarding the allocation of budgetary allocation for the community, the department replied that Rs 5 lakh has been proposed in the state budget estimation for the year 2022-23.
It also mentioned that Manipur State Transgender Welfare Board was constituted in 2016 and reconstituted in 2020 for a second term to spearhead the implementation process of the NALSA judgment passed by the Supreme Court.
The first round of the transgender welfare meeting with the chairperson of the welfare board was held on November 22, 2016, it stated.
Also, during the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, a separate quarantine centre for transgender persons was set up at the Government Blind School, Takyel. The Social Welfare department has been imparting knowledge and support for obtaining the transgender certificate under the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. Moreover, the department has been coordinating with the concerned deputy commissioners for the issuance of the certificate.
During an interaction with the Imphal Free Press, Keisham Kishan said that the transgender community in Manipur are still facing various problems, including discrimination and social stigma. However, transwomen, transmen and other transgender are employed in various departments under male and female categories. Due to lack of proper policy, the people of the community, who are employed at different departments under men and women category despite being transgender, are also facing the same social stigma, he added.
Citing the case of Karnataka, Kishan said there is an increasing acceptance of the transgender and the state government has reserved one per cent for transgender community in the recruitment of government employees. He urges the authority concerned to implement a specific state policy for the transgender community to remove the social stigma. Gender education could also be included in academic syllabus, he suggested.