Brazil To Set Up A Trans Hiring Quota In Large Firms

TW: reference to incidents of transphobia

Brazil could be the first South American country to enforce a trans recruiting quota in certain categories of jobs with the passage of a new law.

On Friday, February 12, 2020, Alexandre Padilha, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress of Brazil, proposed a law that would mandate Brazilian businesses hiring more than 100 employees to set aside 3% of its jobs for transgender workers. According to Reuters, the proposed regulation will extend to private firms which “receive State aid or contracts.”

Padilha, a delegate of the Progressive Social Workers Party, even said that the plan was meant to help transgender people achieve better protection and security in a nation that Reuters previously referred to as “the most dangerous country for transgender people in the world.”

According to reports, South America’s most populous country is leading the world in transphobic fatalities. Following a year in which 350 transgender (including non-binary, and gender non-conforming) people have been killed globally, the Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) evaluation found that 152 people were killed in Brazil alone—nearly three times the next deadliest country, which is Mexico. These numbers were based on reports in local media outfits as well as via social media, and actual numbers could be much higher in reality.

A study conducted from the local LGBTQ+ group Grupo Gay de Bahia finds that, on an average, a queer or transgender person is murdered every day in Brazil.

Padilha, who also acted as Minister of Health under former President Dilma Rousseff, stated that his campaign aimed at tackling the injustice and misery faced by trans-Brazilians – many of whom have been forced out of their homes by their families as adolescents.

“[Transgender people] have to survive without having been able to attend school and, without qualifications, they don’t manage to keep a job,” he told the publication. “It’s a ripple effect.”

These quotas are just the first step on a long road to gender parity in the workplace.

Padilla plans to introduce his bill to Congress next week, but the proposal is unlikely to gain enough congressional approval to be accepted, political observers stated. He consulted on the bill with the Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Homosexuals, Bisexuals, Transvestites, Transsexuals and Intersex Persons (ABGLT), which claimed that the 3% threshold for major businesses was “a minimum base” considering the size of Brazil’s trans population (which some studies have pegged at about 3 million for those identifying as gender-diverse).

Along with promising employment, Padilha’s bill will mandate businesses to honour the names of trans people selected, their clothing choices and their choice of restrooms.

ABGLT President Symmy Larrat admitted that the proposal is facing an uphill battle in Congress. “We know that the conservatives won’t let us make much progress (but) we will fight for more spaces and rights,” she said.

In the meantime, many of these rights have been denied to the transgender people in India with the passage of the Transgender Persons Bill 2019 on 25 November, especially the right to self-determination.

Across India, many transgender people are murdered merely because of who they are. For instance, Trans activist Sangeetha was recently killed by a man whom she had employed in her restaurant in Coimbatore in December 2020. A much larger percentage of people experience sexual and physical harassment, which largely goes unreported due to incidents of police brutality and social stigma. The abuse is most commonly perpetrated by their own family and friends. This is the price that transgender people pay to embrace and claim their identities.

Although Brazil and its neighboring country Argentina have made an attempt to enforce trans-hiring quotas, the 2019 Indian Trans Act breaches the NALSA judgement of 2014 that preaches the right to self-identification. Moreover, the Act does not identify discrimination and undermines their preferred areas of refuge.

Moreover, the bill would not provide for a reservation in the areas of education, health care or jobs even as it categorizes trans people as an economically and educationally backward group.  

The bill thus conveys an erroneous understanding of the trans-community. Despite concerns by the opposition and the trans-community, the Trans Act was approved by the Rajya Sabha in December 2019 and is expected to be implemented, despite being firmly dismissed as being transphobic and regressive by the trans community.

Recently, the new MSME 2021 strategy implemented by the CM of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Palaniswami, seeks to attain and draw an annual growth rate of 15%; providing job opportunities for about 20 Lakh people by 2025.

Speaking at the event, he said that the latest policies are targeted at boosting new industries, such as food manufacturing, and that industrial policy is planned to provide more benefits to those who offer work opportunities for transgender people and people with disabilities.

Although hopeful, this new strategy too carries uncertainties about poor implementation and lack of consideration for trans members in the workplace.

Kerala too has allowed people to identify themselves as transgender, trans-man or trans-woman in government job application forms, where the state policy on the matter upholds the right to self-identification. Nonetheless, this move was criticized as it separates the identity of trans-men from men, and trans-women from women, leaving them vulnerable.

In short, transgender individuals must be accepted without oversight by clinical diagnosis and regional magistrates, and without stigmatizing certification or the intervention of arbitrary entities denying their right to self-identity.

Source: Them News, Reuters, The News Minute

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