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Transgender people and employment in India Opening Doors of Opportunities

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 was enacted in India to protect the rights of transgender individuals and prevent discrimination against them in various areas of life, including employment, education, healthcare, and access to public goods and facilities. The bill recognizes the diverse identities of trans people, including hijras, kinnars, and others. However, despite these efforts, the transgender community in India still faces many challenges and there is a need for continued efforts to achieve equality and inclusion. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality, which was a significant step toward creating a more inclusive and accepting society.


Section 3(b) of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 prohibits unfair treatment of a transgender person in matters related to employment or occupation.

Section 3(c) prohibits the denial of employment and discriminatory termination.

Section 10 bars establishments from discriminating against a transgender person in matters related to employment, such as recruitment and promotion.

Section 11 imposes an obligation on establishments to comply with the provisions of the legislation and provide necessary facilities to transgender people. And

Section 12 requires every establishment with more than 100 people to appoint a compliance officer to deal with complaints regarding violations of the Act.

Section 15 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 imposes a duty on the appropriate government to formulate welfare schemes and programs to support the livelihood of transgender persons, including their vocational training and self-employment.

Section 17 provides for the formation of a National Council by the Central Government with representation from various departments, including the Labour and Employment Department and the Department of Legal Affairs. Section 19(d) provides for penalties and punishments in the event that any person harms, injures, or endangers the life, safety, health, or well-being of a transgender person or engages in any act that causes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or economic abuse.


According to a study by the National Human Rights Commission, 92% of transgender individuals in India are deprived of the right to participate in any form of economic activity, including employment. Despite being qualified for jobs, many are refused employment opportunities. The 2011 census data estimates that India's trans population consists of 490,000 individuals, with only a small percentage being able to secure gainful employment. There are some efforts being made to change this, such as the Chennai-based start-up mentioned, but there is still a long way to go in terms of improving employment opportunities for the transgender community in India. For example, the case of the 23 transgender persons employed by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited, where eight of them quit their jobs within a month due to discriminatory treatment from landlords, highlights the need for better support and protection for trans individuals in the workplace.


In conclusion, addressing the issue of employment for transgender individuals in India requires a multi-faceted approach, involving the government, corporate entities, and society as a whole. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 provides a good foundation for protecting the rights of transgender individuals, but its implementation is still a challenge. There is a need for a robust legal mechanism to enforce the provisions of the Bill, including relevant amendments to other laws such as the Equal Remuneration Act and the Maternity Act to include transgender individuals. The government can play a role by mandating employers to submit details of the number of transgender individuals they have employed.


Society also has a role to play in creating a more inclusive environment for transgender individuals. This begins with educating children on the importance of treating everyone with respect, regardless of their gender identity. Workplaces should also be made more inclusive with initiatives like equal opportunity hiring, providing infrastructure such as restrooms for the third gender, action against misconduct or harassment, medical insurance and policies, and health care.


Ultimately, treating transgender individuals with respect and equality is the key to creating a more inclusive society, where everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.


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