The first Indian state to ever introduce a completely separate section for people who identify as trans is Assam. The commission that recruits people for police, civil service and other allied services – the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) – has become India’s first state commission to ever let transgenders apply for their civil exams.
The Assam Public Service Commission issued an amendment on the 15th of September to add transgender; for the very first time in our country, under the gender section for the Combined Competitive (Preliminary) Examinations 2020.
A One Of It’s Kind Move:
“The move to include transgenders in a separate category is a welcome step and Assam is the first state in India to do so…. Despite the 2014 [Supreme Court] order and a similar order from Gauhati [High Court] in 2018, we were not given a separate category. That’s why I approached APSC,” said Swati Bidhan Baruah, to the Hindustan Times. Swati is the Assam State Transgender Welfare Board‘s associate vice-chairperson.
The trans people population in Assam was more than 11,000, based on the 2011 census. However, many activists say that the real number of transgenders in Assam would be higher than 20,000. Because many individuals prefer to stay inside the closet due to societal stigmas and familial pressures.
But this move to recognize and accept trans people by the APSC might play an important role in discarding any stigmas and making the society greatly inclusive.
No Special Category Initially:
“Initially we had not made a separate category for transgender persons when we issued notification for the exam in September. We were soon approached by a prominent transgender activist Swati Bidhan Baruah to include a separate category,” told Pallab Bhattacharya. He is the chairperson of APSC.
Bhattacharya also added that after this discussion, the APSC “checked with [the Union Public Service Commission] where transgender persons are already allowed to apply in a separate category called ‘Other.’ The state government was apprised of the matter and a separate category was created.
A Big Thing For The Trans Community:
This new section/category came after APSC already began to take in applications from eligible candidates. Hence the last date of submission is extended so trans people can apply. The APSC received 75,988 applications. And out of these, transgender category applications were 42.
“It’s a big thing that 42 persons have applied in the new category as we know that they are a marginalized community and don’t get opportunities to pursue higher education,” noted Swathi Bidhan Baruah. “Forty-two (applicants) is not a small number… It is a historic decision. Assam has become the first state in India to have included us.”
She also called this decision a “big victory,” to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Her group also urged the Assam state government to place a quota for the eligible trans people in civil service jobs. “We’re confident our demand will be met soon,” she told.
Pallab Bhattacharya revealed that around 76,000 candidates applied to sit for this year’s civils exam. The conduction of this exam will be in the month of December.
Indian federal government instructed back in April, that all departments and ministries should change recruitment test forms; and include “transgender” as a separate category in conformation with the trans rights law passed a year ago.
This law came into place for improving the two million trans Indians’ lives. The same two million who endure discrimination every day because if the highly conservative society they live in. This is not news to any Indian – majority of trans people in our country turn to begging, selling sex or performing at marriages. Basically living on scraps.
Campaigners however have voiced their genuine concern over the limits on self-identifying one’s gender; because for declaration as transgender, they must acquire an identity certificate from a district magistrate; as per the law.
Following this requirement is the proof of undergoing sex reassignment surgery; for assignment as female or male.
A New Ray Of Hope:
The Supreme Court of India ruled back in 2014 that trans people have equal rights. But still families, society fail to accept trans people. Transgenders are denied jobs, healthcare and education.
One of the trans people who applied for the examination, a trans woman, said that this decision could change her life. She also wished to serve in the local police force.
“It’s a matter of pride and self respect to have a category where we can boldly mention ourselves as transgender,” the 24-year-old said to the Reuters.com.
“I want to change the system and do away with discrimination faced by the transgender community.”