3% Horizontal Reservation for Transgenders in Education and Public-Sector Jobs. Read Why.

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The transgender community in India comprises of inter-sex persons and transgenders, those whose gender identity differs from the one assigned at birth. The transgender community in India has undergone historical neglect which has resulted in heightened socio-economic backwardness. The community has one of the worst literacy rates as many transgenders drop out of school due to bullying and the social exclusion they face. According to a study on the rights of transgenders by National Human Rights Commission, a staggering 96% transgenders have been denied jobs while an alarming 60% of them have never attended schools. [Read here]

What is horizontal reservation and why do transgenders need it?

For any community to emerge from marginalization and integrate into mainstream society, there is a need for large scale exposure and acceptance. In India, the system of reservation provides for the elevation of such communities.

There are two types of reservations that exist - vertical and horizontal. 

To understand this better, let us assume that transgenders are offered 3% reservation and Category B is offered 10% reservation within 100 seats.

Vertical reservation guarantees that post arranging by evaluation criteria, whatever unreserved seats (here 100 - 13 = 87) are occupied by transgenders and Category B individually, beyond that, an additional 3 and 10 seats will be awarded respectively to these groups.

Whereas, within a horizontal reservation system, the list of 100 that emerges post arranging by evaluation criteria will be scanned for members of the transgender community and category B. If there are at least 3 transgenders within the list (including persons who are transgenders as well as belong to Category B), the reservation will be considered complete. This will help ensure that transgenders can also apply within the category they belong to. Only if the count fails to reach the allocated transgender reservation across all categories in the system, the next available transgender candidate will be added to the list.

The struggle for transgender representation in education and jobs has gone on far too long. However, no concrete results have come out of the bills that have been passed.

In response to a previous PIL filed by 5 transgenders in Madras High Court in 2013, the court “suggested” that the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Department “consider” a 3% reservation for transgenders in education and jobs [Read here].

In 2019, another PIL was filed by activist Grace Banu Ganesan in the Madras High Court, in response to which the Social Welfare Department contested that transgenders can access reservation through the existing vertical reservation system, and already hold the title of the “Most Backward Class”. 

However, this limits the representation of those transgenders who belong to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. This is also different from as directed by the Supreme Court in 2014 – that Centre and the States have to take steps to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes and extend reservation for admission in educational institutions and for public appointments. Additionally, transgenders applying for reservation need a certificate of identity that recognizes them as “transgender” from a district magistrate. While the guidelines for this process of identification are uncertain, the entire process is contradictory to the right of “self-perceived” gender identity.

We urge you to understand the plight of transgenders - who have been ostracized by society for long enough. True equality can only be achieved through enough representation in mainstream society. 

We request the Central and State Governments to set an example for other democracies and uphold the constitution and the rights it guarantees to all its citizens and provide a 3% horizontal reservation to transgenders in education and public- sector jobs across India.

#LGBTQRightsAreHumanRights #Equal_Opportunities #ReservationForRepresentation

Petition by students of IIM Ahmedabad:

1. Ishita Gupta

2. Tanya Dhir

3. Utkarsh Kumar

Petition endorsed by:

1. Reshma Prasad, member of National Council for Transgender Persons (Social Activist at Dostana Safar, Bihar)

2. Prof. Sandeep Pandey, Ph.D., UC Berkeley; Visiting Faculty, IIT Kanpur, IIT Gandhinagar, BHU Varanasi, IIM Ahmedabad (Social Activist)