LGBT Rights – Transgender Bill, Sec. 377, etc.

Reservation for Transgender Community


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Horizontal and Vertical Reservations


Central Idea

  • Maharashtra government said it was difficult to provide additional reservations to transgender persons in education and public employment due to existing reservations for various communities in India.
  • Transgender individuals in Mumbai protested against this statement.

Courts’ rulings on reservations for transgender community

  • National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) v Union of India (2014) case: The Supreme Court ruled that transgender persons have a right to reservation as they are considered a socially and educationally backward class.
  • Direction for reservations: The court directed the Centre and State Governments to treat transgender persons as socially and educationally backward and extend all kinds of reservation for admission to educational institutions and public appointments.
  • Lack of clarity on the nature of reservations: The NALSA judgment does not specify whether reservations for transgender persons should be vertical or horizontal.

Understanding horizontal reservations

  • Distinction between vertical and horizontal reservations: Reservation in India is divided into two categories—vertical and horizontal.
  • Vertical reservations: Aimed at addressing social asymmetry arising from caste hierarchy and backwardness, including reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC).
  • Horizontal reservations: Cut across all vertical groups to provide affirmative policies for disadvantaged groups within categories. For example, disabled persons are guaranteed horizontal reservation in all vertical categories.

Demand for horizontal reservation for transgender community

  • Recognition of marginalization: Transgender individuals have faced long-term marginalization in society, warranting specific provisions and recognition of their social identity.
  • Employment challenges: A study reveals that only 6 percent of transgender people were formally employed in 2017, and many engage in informal work due to societal factors and survival needs.
  • Interpreting the NALSA verdict: The NALSA judgment has been interpreted as directing reservations for transgender individuals in the OBC category due to their identification as a socially and educationally backward class.
  • Concerns and choice: The demand for horizontal reservation raises concerns that Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi transgender individuals may have to choose between availing reservation based on caste and gender identities, leading to competition and exclusion.

Progress on horizontal reservations

  • Lack of action by the Central government: Since the NALSA judgment, the Central government has not taken steps to implement the right to reservation for transgender persons.
  • Legislative developments: The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015, which included provisions for reservations, was rejected in the Lok Sabha. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, does not mention reservations.
  • Parallel provisions for disabled persons: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, ensures horizontal reservation for disabled individuals under the Central government.
  • State-level initiatives: Tamil Nadu categorized trans-women under the Most Backward Classes (MBC) category, and Karnataka introduced 1% horizontal reservation for transgender persons. Madhya Pradesh included transgender persons in the OBC category.
  • Legal challenges and petitions: Transgender persons have filed petitions in various High Courts, seeking horizontal reservation in education and jobs.

Way forward

  • Need for legal action: The lack of progress in implementing horizontal reservations for transgender individuals requires legal challenges to ensure their rights are upheld.
  • Intersectionality and inclusive policies: Ensuring horizontal reservation while considering the diverse identities within the transgender community, including caste and tribal backgrounds, is crucial for equitable representation.
  • Promoting employment opportunities: Implementation of horizontal reservations can contribute to addressing employment challenges and empowering transgender individuals in various sectors.
  • Public awareness and support: Creating awareness about the need for horizontal reservation and garnering public support can strengthen the advocacy for inclusive policies.
  • Collaboration with civil society and stakeholders: Engaging with activists, community leaders, and organizations working on transgender rights can drive collective efforts to achieve meaningful horizontal reservations.

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