NEW DELHI: If a new Draft note which has been submitted to several ministries for review comes into effect then any physical, emotional, or economical exploitation of transgenders will be punishable with a sentence of at least six months to two years maximum.

Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawar Singh Gehlot, has proposed a review of current law related to transgender persons in the form of a draft Cabinet Note titled ‘Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016’, and has asked for comments from ministries. The new Draft aims to make punishable any act of exploitation such as, making persons of transgender community to beg, forcing them to have sex, deny them jobs, or shunning their entry into public space, among others.

The note was proposed for review on March 23 and has taken its cue from a Private Member Bill passed on the same subject last April. The Private Bill was proposed by a Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva, which went on to become the first such to turn into a law in last 45 years. Lok Sabha has decided to address the same issue in the Lower House after “correcting infirmities” of the previous Bill.

The cabinet draft demands the recognition of transgender individuals as members of OBC class—only when they do not already belong to SC/ST class-- so that they take benefits of the alleviating schemes rolled out for the backward classes. It also advocates for free textbooks, reservation in educational institutes, scholarships, and hostel accommodation for them.

To be able to identified as a transgender and a just claimant for schemes, the member of such community needs to get oneself registered at his/her local District Magistrate’s office and get a certificate. The certificate will be issued after the analysis of a screening committee formed to this end consisting of a Chief Medical Officer, District Social welfare Officer, a Psychiatrist, and two members of transgender community.

At the last count, done during 2011 census, there were 6 lakh transgender in our country. The actual number is likely to be much more since people find it difficult to come out in open for fear of ostracism and rebuke by the society. Their main occupation remains begging on the red lights and singing and dancing at weddings or any such functions. Of late, government and society have woken up to their miserable condition though. In West Bengal, where assembly elections are going on, many transgenders have registered themselves under electorate and have voted as such.

In 2014, Supreme Court had passed a judgment which allowed them to identify themselves as transgender and validated the third sex as legal.