The Centre has constituted the national council for transgender persons, headed by the Union social justice minster and comprising representatives from 10 central departments, five states and members of the community.
The council – India’s first and formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 – was announced in a gazette notification issued late on Friday.
According to the legislation, the council has five main functions — 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; and performing such other functions as prescribed by the Centre.
The council will have joint secretary-level members from the ministries of health, home, minority affairs, education, rural development, labour and law. In addition, there will be a member from the department of pensions, Niti Aayog, National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women.
Representatives from five states or Union Territories, on a rotational basis, will be members of the commission. The first such clutch comprises Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tripura and Gujarat.
Five members of the community and five experts, from non-governmental organisations, have also been named to the commission. The tenure of the community members and expert shall be three years.
“I am glad that a member from the Northeast region has been appointed to be part of the council. However, there was no transparency in the manner in which the members were selected. This is a matter of concern, said Santa Khurai, Nupi Maanbi and trans rights activist based in Manipur.
“Intersex people are often invisiblised in the legal and policy discourse. The distinction between gender identity and sex characteristics is also not understood. To bring about changes in the existing governance regime, it is important to work and engage with the system. During my tenure in the Council, I plan to raise awareness about rights of intersex people in general and intersex infants and children in particular. I hope to contribute in developing a comprehensive legal protection regime for intersex people,” said panel member Gopi Shankar M.
“My main aim will be to mainstream the trans community’s concerns, focusing on livelihood issues as well as to raise awareness about the trans community, so that transpersons are accepted within families and in the larger society. I look forward to working with the government to achieve this,” said Reshma Prasad, founder of Dostana Safar, a Patna-based community organisation and a member of the newly constituted council.
R Subramanyam, Union social justice secretary, said: “The transgender welfare board would guide the government in welfare schemes for them. This is a landmark event.”