In-Depth Review: Options available to Trans-Gender’s in Mobility

Dr. Amudhan Valavan Posted on: 2023-03-24 07:00:00 Viewer: 3,595 Comments: 0 Country: India City: Chennai

In-Depth Review: Options available to Trans-Gender’s in Mobility

Transgender Day of Visibility is an international event on 31st March dedicated to recognizing the resilience and accomplishments of the transgender community. On this day, we celebrate the transgender population amongst us, raise awareness about the struggles that they face and advocate for more protected rights for them in a bid to reform society and empower this community — as it so rightfully deserves. Let’s join hands together with the trans-community to celebrate not ‘fitting in’ when we all yearn to stand out!

Despite some legal and social advances in the past two decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. This discrimination and violence lead to exclusion, and this exclusion has adverse impacts on both the lives of LGBTI people as well as on the communities and economies in which they live. The trans-gender is more visible, it will help people who tend to judge them to better understand them. Right now, they don't understand trans-gender reality. However, Trans-genders are not asking anyone to like them, only to respect them as human beings. Despite this fact, if we ask ourselves as an individual or as a society or government whether we are giving the third gender people their individual rights and freedom, the answer is again sadly ‘No’.

While trans-genders are increasingly visible in both popular culture and in daily life, they still face severe discrimination, stigma and systemic inequality. Some of the specific issues facing the trans-gender community are given below:

  • Lack of legal protection
  • Poverty
  • Stigma, Harassment and Discrimination
  • Violence Against Trans People
  • Lack of Healthcare Coverage
  • Identity Documents
  • Not getting Hassle free travel in Public Transport i.e. Seat allocation, online facilities to reserve as Trans-Gender etc.
The transport infrastructure of a country is a key to economic development, and gives people the means to access job opportunities, education, recreation, and medical facilities. As first and last mile connectivity, Government has to improve access to the public transport system and to provide safer mobility options for women and all citizens. For women and transgender to overcome barriers to take up employment opportunities in the transport sector, trust must be instilled in the beneficiaries and their families.  Accessing one’s right to the city’s infrastructure also encompasses daily movement through public transport, which yet again becomes a sight of conflict, bigotry, and harassment around the trans-identity. This inaccessibility of public transport does not just violate the right to the freedom movement of a trans-gender but also creates a hindrance in accessing their right to work, education, and health. Access to public transport is compromised because of discrimination against trans-gender with real or perceived non-normative gender identity and expression.

Trans-gender’s rights to dignity, freedom of movement, equal opportunity and non-discrimination are all violated by systemic hurdles that prevent them from using public transportation. Activities like frisking should be made touch-free, irrespective of gender. While state governments are coming up with incentives for free public transport for cis-het women, there should also be similar incentives for trans-gender. Already, the Tamil Nadu Government Announces Free Bus Travel for Third Gender from June 2021 and also Tamil Nadu government gazette has published a glossary of LGBTQIA+ terms in August, 2022.

To have easy access to food, housing, reservation in public employment and education, the Trans-genders need un-hindered service to Public Transport. If we provide the best public transport services to the Trans-Gender people, their growth in society will be noticeably big. Separate initiatives to be taken for setting up separate college in Arts, Science & Engineering or law etc. at least one in State should be established for them and providing jobs to Trans-Gender people will prevent them from taking up sexual work.

Experts claim that public transport is not advisable or safe for transgender people as they face bad incidents

One of the Transgender commented that “Public Transport is a dangerous place for us and as a trans-gender  going from A to B, we are at risk. We avoid taking buses or trains as we know that we are going to be targeted. Abuse can be a daily occurrence and every morning we get up and put on an emotional blanket to protect ourselves from what we know to expect when we go out the front door. It can be anything from having someone look at us like we are invalids to the extent of physical violence. We used to get hurtful comments and we are at times treated as public property, with people thinking they have the right to abuse us physically  or make derogatory statements about our private parts.

One of the trans-gender said:

I have faced hostile behaviour  from  both  men and women. Men are worse. If we sit in women’s seats, they become uncomfortable, and if we sit in men’s seats, we become uncomfortable.

During security check up, another trans-gender said, “They often end up touching my body while giving me money. This is very common to us.”

Also, while looking at the supporting infrastructures like toilets at the metro or other terminals, the binary nature of these infrastructures further restricts the mobility of trans-gender to the public transport.

Last week I was travelling from Bangalore to Chennai in a private Omni Sleeper Bus. An I.T. worker belonging to the third gender boarded the bus at Silk Board stopping. The berth allotted to him/her was double berthed. So he/she started requesting the passengers in single berth to adjust and move to double berth, considering the fact that there might be some problem while sharing a berth with other people. But no one was willing to make such a simple adjustment considering his/her safety and comfort. So the person approached the conductor who then spoke on their behalf to a person in single berth and helped them get a single berth. Only then he/she was able to peacefully travel in the bus. Later he/she remarked with a tinge of grief saying that “When reserving seats online, there are facilities to reserve seats for male and female separately online. If reservation for us third genders were made available, we don’t have to go about requesting other people to make adjustments whenever we are travelling and that would really be great.”

Trans Genders are not errors in society. They are God’s errors. For the rationalist, they are nature’s errors; For doctors they are DNA’s errors; Overall they are just people whose identity does not match their body and how they feel about themselves or vice versa.

Further, allocating reserved seats can also help trans-gender achieve better reliability over public transport. The gender-bias in the transport-related infrastructure needs to be radically addressed. In General, public transports have separate seating for male, female, elderly and differently abled. But there is not separate reservation of seats for the third gender people. And till date in online reservation there has been no attempt to add the third gender reservation into the ticketing system for the LGBTQI+ community both from government and the private sector owned Buses/Trains/Air Bus.

Actually, online ticketing service providers or respective software providers that it has not considered adding separate  reservation option for the third gender category in their reservation process. Services like Redbus, Abhi Bus, Paytm or the technology companies that develop these services like Bitla, Ezeebus, Vaagaitech, ViaCom, Quickbus, Hermesnetwork that takes care of private bus booking or the government side technology providers like Radiantinfo or the train ticket booking service provider like IRCTC has not considered third gender as an option which is a very sad fact.

In United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11.2 it is mentioned that all the Federal Institutions-

By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, and children, persons with disabilities, older persons and LGBTQI community etc.

Tamil Nadu government has stood as an example in the forefront by adding a transgender person Padma Shri Dr. Narthaki Nataraj  in the State planning commission for the first time in India.  And such a government should also take steps to write policy to add the third gender category in ticketing process for transport service reservations is a shared recommendation among transport experts like me.

There is no doubt that the transgender community continues to face discrimination worldwide. Be it in the workplace, schools, or societies, it has been subjected to immense harassment and inequality in every part of the world for the ‘sin’ of being born different. Therefore, on Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2023, we recognise and revere their contributions, successes, and relentless resilience in standing tall and strong in the face of injustice. Through this Day of Visibility, we hope to induce moral responsibility and tolerance, and lift the restrictions on the rights of transgender people.

I request to the state and national federal Institutions as an International Public Transport Expert, necessary orders to be passed to the Transport department officials as given below:

  • For giving one separate seat or berth reservations to the Trans-gender as given currently for the differently abled persons, senior citizens in all modes of the Public Transport.
  • To add separate facilities at Sex/Gender Neutral Form for reserving seats as “Trans-Gender- (TG)” while booking ticket through online or offline for travelling in Public Transport and the same should be adopted by the Private ticketing service providers and the respective technology providers.

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