Transgender Persons Rules 2020 spells out new health initiatives
The draft rules, which are expected to be notified soon, introduce a slew of healthcare reforms aimed at transgender persons.
Under the draft rules for the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, transgender persons will now be able to opt for gender reassignment surgeries at state hospitals free of cost. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020, which were introduced on April 18 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, mandates that at least one state hospital in each state should provide sex reassignment surgery (SRS) for free, in addition to providing counselling and hormone replacement therapy.
As of now, very few government hospitals offer it. In private hospitals, the procedure is expensive and out of reach for many who want bodies that they are more comfortable with. The rules also require the state to provide separate wards for transgender persons and medical insurance/Aarogyasri cards that will cover the cost of the procedure and additional services in private hospitals.
Further healthcare measures include the setting up of human immunodeficiency virus sero-surveillance centres in accordance with guidelines issued by the National AIDS Control Organisation, review of medical curriculum and research for doctors to address their specific health issues and bring out health manuals related to their specific needs and concerns.
The rules lay down clauses against the discrimination of transgender persons in educational institutions, workplaces, in renting or buying property and also in holding any public office. There are provisions describing how transgender persons should be identified by the state and what kind of documents and certificates they can obtain or change, as the need arises. The rules ask the government to take appropriate measures to ensure their welfare and participation in society. Children can’t be taken away from their transgender parents nor can they be excluded from a household on account of being a transgender person.
The rules also call for the setting up of a National Council for Transgender Persons with representatives from Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Health and Family Welfare, Home Affairs, Minority Affairs, Labour and Employment and more, in addition to National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and certain NGOs. Five representatives from the transgender communities from the states, as approved by the Centre, will also be present in rotation.
There was criticism that the deadline for comments and suggestions from the public on the draft rules was too short considering the country was under lockdown and there wasn’t time to for trans activists to go out and interact with community members.