A regional lawmaker for India’s ruling party has apologized after calling her political rival ‘worse than a transgender person’.
Footage of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Sadhana Singh making the derogative comment at a rally in December surfaced online over the weekend.
Singh said Kumari Mayawati, the head of rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), was ‘a blot on womankind’, according to the Bangalore Mirror.
‘Can not say if she can be counted among men or women, she is worse than a transgender person’ Singh said.
She made the remarks after the BSP joined forces with another political party against the BJP
BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra said that it shows ‘the level BJP has sunk to’ and filed a complaint with police.
Singh later apologized and said ‘my intention was not to insult anyone’.
Leading trans rights activist Meera Sanghamitra described Singh’s actions as ‘outrageously casteist, transphobic, patriarchal’ and a humiliation of trans persons.
In a country where discrimination & abuse of transgender persons is a norm, relentless public humiliation of trans identities & lives by Ministers, MPs, MLAs camouflaged as ‘political critique’ is the worst form of violencehttps://t.co/P33u4shtUE#stoptransbill2018 @Labia_LBT
— Meera Sanghamitra (@meeracomposes) January 19, 2019
This language is so offensive at so many levels. Our elected politicians are meant to protect all citizens rights, not abuse them- irrespective of caste,creed, gender. Party must take action against MLA who’s gone against @BJP4India stated policy of women’s upliftment #Mayawati https://t.co/x1ZWQOZ6DV
— Maya Mirchandani (@maya206) January 20, 2019
The National Commission for Women also denounced Singh over her comments.
— rekha sharma (@sharmarekha) January 20, 2019
Trans rights in India
Trans Indians celebrated in 2014 when the Supreme Court recognized the right to identify as a third gender in a landmark ruling.
In fact, it came four years before India finally ended its gay sex ban.
But transgender Indians remain marginalized. They do not have equal opportunities at school or in workplaces.
They face widespread discrimination, including from their families. For that reason, many engage in begging or sex work and live in self-contained communities.
A 2018 Transgender Rights Bill passed the Lower House of Parliament last month. Lawmakers said it would enshrine more rights to the community.
But, the trans community argues it does the opposite. Activists called on politicians to halt it in the Upper House.
Activists describe it as ‘extremely problematic’.
Importantly, the bill denies the right to self identify. Officials or doctors would ‘inspect’ trans people before they could officially change gender, according to the bill.
The new bill also has no provisions to encourage integration, they argue.
It also offers no extra protection for trans Indians. Currently, charges of stalking, sexual assault, and rape, apply only to cisgender women.