Centre Goes All Out To Avoid Consent-Based Physical Education To Promote Transphobia Instead

TW: Systemic transphobia

In a move that mimics the recent ban on the participation of trans- girls and -women in women’s athletics across 30 states in the United States of America (talk about aping the west!), the Indian National Government and National Cadets Corps (NCC) have sought to challenge Justice Anu Sivaraman’s verdict in the Kerala High Court that allowed trans-folx to join NCC based on their self-described gender identity. The verdict was based on a petition by Hina Haneefa, a trans-woman who wanted to enrol as part of the girls’ wing of NCC.

Hina Haneefa

According to the appeal:

The petitioner can only be treated as a Transwoman which comes under Transgender category and cannot be inducted in female division. The learned single judge without considering the ramification in inducting petitioner in female division directed that the petitioner be inducted in the female division.

The government’s stubborn adherence to the gender binary is befuddling (to say the least), but is quite aligned with its larger brand of transphobic legislations. However, its appeal raises another question as to why it has not created a separate wing for trans-folx when it was directed to do so by a Supreme Court verdict in 2014?

The government defended its appeal saying that NCC imparts gender-specific training through close contact physical exercise as well as residential camps, which require the cadets to co-stay in tents and dorms. Why this curriculum cannot be used to teach young people the importance of consent and physical boundaries is a question we hope the Court will ask, observing the dire need for such a conversation in our educational institutions today.

The government continued with many such trans-phobic justifications for its appeal, while simultaneously positioning itself as a guardian of safe spaces for young cis-girls and -women.

Whatever the way forward may be, it seems like the government as well as judiciary’s inability to move past the notion of binary biological sexes based on which gender is prescribed is keeping us away from addressing larger problems of gender equality such as sexual and reproductive health, personal safety, mental health and other aspects of public well-being.

Let it be known that the government shunned a major opportunity to transform education by holding onto colonial values, while importing systemic bigotry as seen in recent times in USA.

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Tejaswi is journalist and researcher whose attention is captured by post-colonial human relationships at a time of the Internet of Things. She can't wait to become a full-time potter soon, though!

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