We all know of the plight currently faced by our country and its citizens over the much debated CAA and NRC bills in the government pipeline. But what we don’t know is how many people will be possibly excluded and on what grounds. Persecution is not just religious in nature, as the LGBTQ community knows too well. Especially the Transgenders in India.
Take the case of Transgenders in Assam. According to the All Assam Transgender Association (AATA) almost 2000 people from the 20,000 strong Transgender community in Assam have been excluded from the NRC list. Most of them have been ostracised by the society and very often their own friends and families. The estimate is also considered to be lower than actual numbers, since many prefer to not come out of the closet fearing persecution. According to the last third gender census count, 4.9 lakh people come under the scanner through voluntary declaration. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/First-count-of-third-gender-in-census-4-9-lakh/articleshow/35741613.cms)
Assam’s first transgender judge and petitioner Swati Bidhan Baruah said: “Most transgenders were abandoned, they do not have documents pertaining to before 1971. Objection applications did not contain ‘others’ as a gender category. NRC was not inclusive for transgenders and forced them to accept male or female as their gender. We are hoping the Supreme Court will take into consideration our petition”.
Self-determination has repeatedly been a point of contention for the Indian government and their stance on LGBTQ policies changes very slowly over time. It is up to the community to educate the people as well as their representatives in parliament as to how self-determination of gender is a necessary right for the queer community.
Cases of disownment are also common in India, making the job of providing birth certificates and other paperwork a nigh impossible task for some. People excluded from NRC do have the option to appeal to a Foreign Tribunal which will decide upon the matter. Over 500 Foreign Tribunals have been set up in Assam to deal with the cases, with 221 more to be set up in all districts of the state as of late 2019.
As members of the community, it is our job to write to our MPs and MLAs to educate them about the matter and make our voices heard.