In 2006, the Patna district administration hit upon a new idea to collect outstanding municipal tax from habitual defaulters — by using the services of members from the dancing transgender community. The experiment was so successful that the government’s coffers filled up in just a week of employing them, as many defaulters cleared the dues dreading humiliation from furiously-clapping transgenders knocking at their doors.
Nobody had imagined then that the transgender community would gain so much acceptability in society in the days to come. First, the Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment of 2014, accorded them the third gender status.
Now, in another major victory for the community, the Bihar government has decided to recruit them in police jobs. As per the announcement, one in every 500 posts for constables/sub-inspectors to be advertised for recruitment will be reserved for transgenders. They can now be recruited directly or by a routine competitive process in the state police.
The state government had earlier planned to raise a dedicated transgender battalion but withdrew the proposal later citing a small population of the community. A battalion needs 1,000 personnel and the government, perhaps, thought it would be difficult for them to find that many eligible transgender people for recruitment.
As per the 2011 Census, the total population of transgender persons in Bihar is 40,827. As an alternative option, the Patna High Court has suggested the state government to at least form a separate unit of transgender persons if their dedicated battalion is not possible.
“This is a major victory for us. We can say that our golden period starts now,” said Reshma Prasad, an expert member of the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP) in Delhi. The NCTP, established in 2020 under the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protections of Rights) Act, 2019, is the statutory body of the government of India, generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting transgenders.
“Transgenders are neither physically nor mentally challenged. The only problem with us is that we don’t have social acceptability, but now the Bihar government’s decision is revolutionary and it will benefit the entire community. It has opened up new ways for a dignified life for the community,” said Prasad, adding there was no dearth of talent among transgenders.
Amitabh Das, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, said the state’s move will ultimately help the community, which has been looked down upon in society, gain respect. “Transgender persons fall under the ‘differently-abled’ category. They must be given the opportunity to grow, just as physically challenged persons, who enjoy reservations in government jobs,” said Das, adding separate unit of transgenders would be very successful in the police force.
This victory for the community came after a long legal battle that was pursued by a transwoman activist, Veera Yadav. She filed a petition in the Patna High Court demanding that the community be allowed to take part in the recruitment process for the 8,000 vacancies of constables in the state police departments after she found the separate column for the third gender missing from the recruitment exam forms. Judicial intervention in the wake of this petition prompted the state government to announce that transgender community members would be recruited in the police force. “We thank the government and the judiciary but our battle is not fully won. Our fights will continue,” Yadav said.
This positive development reinforces the change in outlook of the government and the society towards the community. Recently, Monika Das, 32, a transgender woman who works in a major commercial bank, was appointed the presiding officer by the Election Commission for the Bihar assembly elections.
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), headed by Chirag Paswan, the son of Dalit politician late Ram Vilas Paswan, had fielded a transgender person, Ram Darshan Prasad, from the Hathua seat in Gopalganj district. Prasad was the first transgender to be considered over general candidates for election by any political party in the state.