These days, hundreds of transgender folks gathered to criticise the NDA government’s proposed definition of their gender as too similar to the Hindu concept of Ardhanarishvara in its over-reliance on physical attributes. They demanded that self-declaration and not medical screening is the accepted mode of gender identification. The transgender community sees itself as people whose gender identity (self-identification as a man or woman or neither or both) runs counter to the gender assigned to them by others based on their physical attributes. But a bill likely to be discussed in the Lok Sabha this week says that “a transgender person means a person who is (A) neither wholly female nor wholly male or (B) a combination of female or male or (C) neither female nor male….” It adds that whether a person is transgender, is to be decided by a screening committee set up by the district magistrate. Unlike other range of categories, such as race and gender, employers are not required to collect statistics on the number of LGBTQ people they employ.
Employers have sought to determine the number of their employees who is identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer while balancing privacy concerns. Some employers use LGBTQ employee group membership numbers to generate estimates, but this method is limited by the scope of such voluntary groups over a highly dispersed workforce. Self Identify is to recognise their personal sexual identity. One can say “I self identify as a gay trans woman”, meaning that you understand yourself to be a woman who is both transgender and attracted to other women. You could also say, “I identify as a straight man” meaning you consider yourself to be male and attracted to women. Just because you have a transgender history does not mean you have to identify as a trans person. Some trans people consider themselves to be cisgendered following transition or surgery. Likewise, someone can be attracted to both men and women but only wants to have sexual contact with men. This person could “self identify” as heterosexual or bisexual depending on what they feel most accurately describes them. In this entire process one needs no doctor or expert to examine or determine ones sexuality.
The only person who can command your sexual orientation and identity is you. More recently, employers have gathered statistics through anonymous employee engagement or satisfaction surveys, which can include upward of 100 questions, and through confidential and secure employee records. In both cases, whether an employee discloses their gender identity or sexual orientation is optional and voluntary and any reporting or direct access to the data is designed to ensure confidentiality of the employee. Employee engagement surveys can include optional questions that allow LGBTQ employees to self-identify based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This is almost always done secretly to ensure employee privacy, but LGBTQ employees may nonetheless remain fearful of the repercussions of disclosure.
In the HRC Corporate Equality Index 2016 survey of 851 employers, 45 per cent allow employees to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity on anonymous surveys or confidential Human Resource records, compared with 141 of the 519 employers (27 per cent) in the 2008 survey and just 17 per cent in the 2006 survey. India boast itself as a modern and liberal nation and but every spectrum of fundamental rights has done injustice to its miniscule minority of transgender community. It took India decades to enact the law regarding them. Many of them went through humiliation and excommunication by the society. Many of them have taken occupation for their bread and butter against their mind. If only we can provide them education and equal opportunity rendered by our sacred constitution of which we always swear upon every time when our rights gets trampled.
Moreover, who are we to deny their natural rights? Sane voices of our society never steadfastly pursued for them as they stood like rock for others. Self-identification is going to harm the cause of transgender as it is doing so in the UK. Self ID in US, though not yet a law but an ongoing practice about to be made into a law, has already allowed a lot of non transgender to declare themselves transgender in order to reap certain sex-linked benefits: male prisoners are declaring themselves female trans to escape male prisons but then exhibit brutality in female prisons, crime stats have been completely skewed because trans females (sex-male) crimes have been counted under female crimes, trans have also used self ID to get lighter punishment, as is the norm for female criminals. Further, trans females (sex-male) have used trans status to enter female sports and push out actual females from those scholarships and posts. This has created a backlash against trans. Self ID erases sex-based protections enshrined in law, especially for females.
Self-ID is going to enable these opportunistic to use the trans identity and resolute the system, which is inevitably going to hurt the trans people. Better to have a medical panel to issue certificate (especially since it is a matter of taxpayer-funded entitlements) to root out such opportunists. It is not degrading to be issued certificate on objective criteria. This is the norm for any entitlement! Poor people have to get ration cards, PAN cards, Aadhaar cards for their benefits — this does not degrade particular set of people but yes, in the name of identity parade there should not be any humiliation or any damage to the person and his privacy.
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