Centre might modify biology-based definition of transgender persons
The government might change the definition of 'transgender' in the Transgender Bill by prioritizing an individual's freedom to choose their gender instead of focusing on their biological features. The social justice ministry might shelve the earlier definition after the parliamentary standing committee on social justice found the definition "primitive and unscientific." Read to know how this definition has changed over the years.
In April 2014, the SC passed a landmark National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India (NALSA) judgment that identified transgender persons, recognizing their fundamental and civil rights. The judgement is pertinent because it gave importance to an individual's freedom to choose which gender they would like to be, instead of relying on the individuals' biological characteristics to identify them as transgender.
Following the NALSA judgement, a private members' Rights of Transgender Persons bill was introduced in the RS and passed unanimously in 2015. It relied on the NALSA judgement and focused on the psychological aspect allowing a transgender to take a call on their gender. In 2016, the government refuted the private members' bill and put forth its own Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill.
The proposed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 focuses on an individual's biological characteristics to identify them as transgender. It says that transgender is a person who is "neither wholly female nor wholly male," "a combination of female or male," or is "neither female nor male." It doesn't offer the right to identify as either male or female, like many wish to do.
The parliamentary standing committee on social justice found that the bill first gives importance to the "biological test" and then an individuals' opinion about their gender. However, it should be the opposite, the committee said while citing the NALSA judgment. According to sources, the ministry has agreed with the committee's argument. A new draft bill with a modified definition of 'transgenders' is now awaited.