In 2020, the rights exclusions faced by transgender persons in India worsened during the national lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 passed to protect the rights of transgender persons is likely to further discriminate against transgender persons and their access to COVID-19 vaccination. Lack of data on transgender persons has been often stated as a reason for lack of budget allocation and targeted programs to address their needs. However, the problem lies in the inability of transgender persons to enter data systems due to the exclusionary designed systems.
In the early 2000s, digitisation of data systems was introduced in India assuming it to be the ideal solution to remove existing offline challenges and enable more people-centred systems. However, digitisation seems to have replicated existing challenges for transgender persons with respect to entering data systems in order to access their rights. In several cases, digitisation has further amplified the complexities involved.
The exclusions faced by transgender persons were supposed to change with the passing of the NALSA Vs Union of India verdict 2014, which recognised the right of every individual to self-identify their gender as male, female or transgender. This verdict detailed out nine directives to the central and state governments to implement for the inclusion of transgender persons. However, all states did not implement the directives and the situation continued to remain bleak. Further, despite severe opposition from the transgender community, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed in 2019.
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