THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 27 December 2018 (Bill of wrongs)

Bill of wrongs

Mains Paper 4: Governance
Prelims level: The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill
Mains level: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the
performance of these schemes


  •  The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 was swiftly introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha on December 17.
  •  At first glance, the government’s Bill looks quite promising compared to the 2016 version, after 27 recommendations of the Standing Parliamentary Committee were adopted.
  •  However, when one looks closer, pertinent questions arise: How has the Bill constructed the concept of “gender identity” and its long-term implications for transgender individuals?
  •  Is the Bill potent enough to correct the centuries-old discrimination and injustices against the transgender community?
  •  Does the Bill convert the constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and equality into lived experiences for transgender persons?

Features of this bill

  •  The Bill ends up providing a one-sided and an over-simplified understanding of the term “transgender”.
  •  It emphasises the biological dimension of transgender identity; conflates “sex” with “gender” and weaves a medicalised discourse for both; and sets “male” and “female” bodies as the normative standards.
  •  Gender identity is a complex concept that is manifested in multiple ways.
  •  While a trans-person may experience a dysfunction with respect to anatomy others may face even bigger dilemmas about their “self-concept” and “social role”.
  •  The Bill fails miserably to factor in how trans-persons view themselves vis a vis others;
    how the society views a trans-person; how trans-persons conduct themselves as well as interact with others and yearn to get a stamp of approval from the society at large.
  •  Queer theorists view gender identity as a malleable and fluid concept.
  •  They believe that individual life, identity and experiences cannot be constrained in boxes like male/female/transgender.

What constitutes non-standard sexual anatomy?

  •  Who decides when the sex anatomy category of male ends and the category of intersex begins or when the category of intersex ends and female begins?
  •  While on the one hand, the Bill expressly prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, on the other hand, it limits the prohibition to only nine types of discriminatory acts.
  •  Discrimination is a multidimensional concept and to name just nine types is a travesty of justice. Further, it fails to prescribe a commensurate punishment for the violation of prohibited acts like sexual crimes.
  •  Shockingly, the Bill does not even decriminalise homosexuality in line with the 2018 Supreme Court judgment.


  •  The Bill completely overlook everyday acts of bullying, intimidation and abuse carried out by police officials but also grants them complete immunity from prosecution.
  •  The bundle of rights, benefits and privileges extended to other citizens under various laws like marriage, divorce, inheritance and reservations have not been made available to trans-persons.
  •  The Bill grants a right to self-identification to transgender individuals as upheld by the NALSA judgment.Can an individual who self identifies as “male” today, wake up and put on a new gender tomorrow?
  •  What is the process to be followed if one wishes to change one’s gender identity?
  •  The Bill empowers the District Screening Committee comprising of medical experts and doctors to conduct physical tests in order to determine whether a person may be categorised as “transgender”.

Way forward

  •  With this Bill, the government has put in place a new gender regulatory regime which is a negation of the privacy judgment.
  •  The Bill is oblivious of the harsh realities and circumstances of the transgender community.
  •  For example, it does not allow the separation of transgender persons from their abusive families.
  •  Separation is possible only under exceptional circumstances, under a judicial order whereby a person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre.
  •  The insistence on living with the natal family is regressive.
  •  Further, state-run rehabilitation centres are known to have deplorable living conditions and frequent instances of sexual violence.
  •  Begging is a primary source of livelihood for trans persons in India. By criminalising the activity, the Bill pushes them into penury.
  •  The absence of any provision about education and affirmative action for the transgender community is another major shortcoming.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following steps taken by the Reserve Bank of India aim to strengthen the bond market in India?
1. Commercial banks permitted to issue masala bonds.
2. Permitting primary dealers to act as market makers for government bonds.
3. Banks allowed to increase the partial credit enhancement they provide to the corporate bonds.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Mains Questions:
Q.1) The passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 has been criticized by the very community it seeks to protect. Examine.