Tripura: Transpersons say cops made them 'strip to prove gender'
Four transgender persons in Tripura have accused police officers of stripping them naked and "disclosing gender." The transpersons were eventually released after allegedly being made to sign a document vowing to never "crossdress" again or they might be arrested. They alleged that the police took them into custody while they were returning from a party on Saturday night. The complaint was filed on Monday.
Why does this story matter?
- A 2014 Supreme Court judgment had declared transgender people the "third gender."
- The judgment had stated that they are entitled to the same fundamental rights as everyone else under the Indian Constitution, and have the right to self-identify as male, female, or third gender.
- However, transpersons in India continue to face social stigma and are frequently harassed.
What happened on Saturday?
The transpersons were stopped by the police and taken to the West Agartala Women Police Station, one of the complainants told Hindustan Times. A reporter was present with the police, they said. "We were asked to strip in presence of both male and female police in the night," they added. The cops allegedly accused the transpersons of extorting people using a "fake gender identity."
Incident caused emotional, psychological pain: Activists
"Their lives are stigmatized after a few videos of their harassment went viral on social media," said LGBTQ+ rights activist Sneha Gupta Roy told HT. The community has also suffered psychological and emotional harm due to the incident, said Roy. "Whatever happened is a violation of human rights. We will fight legally to get them justice," added advocate Nilanjana Roy.
Arrests made under IPC Section 51: Official
"I have heard they were held under Section 51 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) and we have asked for a report to ascertain on what grounds they were arrested," a Tripura Police official told HT. Section 51 has provisions of preventive arrest. If they were harassed, they can seek help from the Human Rights Commission or the Police Accountability Commission, the official added.
4.87 lakh 'third gender' persons in India: 2011 census
India's 2011 census listed 4.87 lakh persons who identified as the third gender. Most of them were from Uttar Pradesh (28.18%), followed by Andhra Pradesh (8.97%), Bihar (8.37%), and West Bengal (6.22%). However, trans rights activists argue that the figures are vastly undercounted since most transpersons do not have formal documentation asserting their gender identity or they do not come out fearing stigma.