The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a portal to empower the transgender community, by enabling them to get their chosen gender identity certified online. The new portal – named ‘The National Portal for Transgender Persons’ – allows transgender individuals to upload affidavit declaring their “self-perceived” gender identity. It was launched on Wednesday by Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Transpeople can now get their identity certified online by the district magistrate, and can thus avoid visiting government offices physically. Once the application is received online, the identity card will be issued to the individual in 30 days and this identity will be the used in all subsequent official documents.
The launch of the portal follows the passing of the controversial Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, in November last year.
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The Supreme Court had recognised the transgender community as a third gender along with male and female in April 2014. Although the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic, and educational empowerment of transgenders, it had received criticism from the community it had claimed to help.
Firstly, the process to obtain the identity certificate demands proof of sex reassignment surgery, which may not be desirable or affordable for all transgender people. It also does not specify the kind of surgery expected; there is more than one type. Additionally, this contradicts the 2014 NALSA (National Legal Services Authority of India) judgement by the Supreme Court, which gave transgender people the right to self-identify, and did not mandate surgery.
After a lot of controversy, the medical examination mandated by a panel (for a district magistrate or collector to certify a person as a transgender), which was earlier part of the Bill, was done away with. In the case of a child, his or her parents can file application for issuance of an identification certificate.