Back in 2015, Kerala was the first state to have a Transgender Policy that promised transgenders equal access to rights, resources, and equal treatment devoid of any discrimination based on sex. The transgender community was also given the right to call themselves the gender they identify with. However, one of the flaws in the policy was the usage of the term ‘other gender’ or ‘third gender’ instead of transgender.
The founder of Queerythm – Prijith PK, a community based LGBTIQ support group, shared, “There is no need to classify gender in numerical order such as one, two or three. All genders should be placed in the same level.” Prijith’s words holds true because gender inequality starts from boxing people’s identity in a hierarchal manner, which then makes way for gender discrimination and sexual exploitation. Having said that, the Kerala Government has issued an order stating that the words ‘other gender’ or ‘third gender’ will not be used in any official documents now and in the future. Instead, the word ‘transgender’ will be used as a gender identity.
The project officer of the state Transgender Cell, Shyama S Prabha, is credited to have brought this issue into limelight because she felt that by identifying transgenders as the third gender, people often speak of them in terms of sexuality or sex, which is not what the transgender community hopes for. Not only is it offensive, but also degrading to the community struggling to survive age-old stereotypes. She states, “We are human beings and a 2014 Supreme Court judgement has identified transgender as a gender identity.”
The very use of certain words can make the marginalised even more insignificant in society. Our aim should be to respect the choices of transgenders because they too are equal citizens of the country. By using the word transgender, it gives them a ‘sense of acceptance’ and that’s where a difference can be made. According to The News Minute, Prijith shared, “There is no need to classify gender in numerical order such as one, two or three. All genders should be placed in the same level. Through wrong phrasing, a lot of wrong connotations are made. By referring to us as transgender persons, we can overcome all the wrong connotations.”
The Kerala Government has now taken a landmark step by confirming that henceforth, the term transgender will be used in all government communications.
Featured Image Courtesy: The Hindu