Date: 24 Sept, 2020
by Soumyashree Ray Chowdhury
In the light of the National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India judgement, where the Supreme Court declared that transgender individuals are distinct from binary genders and shall be considered to be the ‘Third Gender’ for the purposes of laws enacted by the parliament and state legislature the Parliament of India enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act,2019 to give it a statutory effect.
‘Transgender’ as defined under the Act includes individuals whose gender does not conform or match with the gender assigned to them at birth and includes trans-man and trans-woman (whether or not they have undergone sex reassignment surgery).
An ‘Establishment’ under the Act has been defined as any company or body corporate or firm, cooperative, trust, agency or institution.
INCLUSIVITY IN WORKPLACE
According to a study conducted by the NHRC in 2018, almost 92% of transgenders were deprived of their right to participate in any economic activity in the country. Some of the key provisions of the Act dedicated to the involvement of the third gender in workplaces are:
The Act specifically prohibits workplaces from discriminatory treatment towards transgender persons in matters related to employment, including but not restricted to recruitment, promotion as well as other employment-related decisions.
It also places a positive obligation on the establishments to comply with the provisions of the Act and provide necessary facilities to the people concerned.
Every workplace must designate an individual who shall serve as a complaint officer to deal with complaints under the Act.
It also sets out punishment for those who compels or entices a transgender individual into forced or bonded labour.
However, in addition to this it is also necessary to recommend the creation of a conducive environment and conduct sensitisations and workshops to educate workplaces about gender inclusivity and acceptance of transgender community in organisations, review and update necessary HR policies to provide the community with the much-needed support and counselling.
Although this piece of legislation is definitely a step in the right direction, it is important that the ambiguity surrounding it must be cleared. Practical implementation challenges that might crop up must also be paid due attention to in order to go a long way in the promotion and betterment of the Transgender community and their inclusion in workplaces.