Assam transgender community opposes CAB 2016 fearing complete wipeout

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Assam transgender community opposes CAB 2016 fearing complete wipeout

Saumya Mishra  | January 19, 2019 11:09 hrs

The transgender community of Assam has strongly opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, as they feel it will undermine their existence and identity in the state. 

“While our existence already did not have any form in Assam since the NRC process has begun, on top of this the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will completely end the transgender community’s existence in the state,” Swati B


idhan Baruah, the first transgender judge of Assam who heads the All Assam Transgender Association, told G Plus.    

She added that for other communities, the citizenship bill raises issues about merely the citizenship. But for the transgender community, they will suffer either way as there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for them. 

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by making minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan become eligible for Indian citizenship.  

Elaborating on the types of problems which can arise for the transgender community if the Bill is passed, Swati said that transgender people from other countries, especially from Bangladesh, might settle in Assam. 

“They will settle their gharana in Assam which will pose a direct threat to the older already existing ethnic gharanas of the state. If a guru from Bangladesh with a large following comes to Assam, the indigenous Assamese transgender community will become extinct,” informed Swati.  

She added that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, if passed, will pose a traditional as well as cultural threat to the transgender community of the state. 

People from the transgender community in Assam say that with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation process which is currently underway in the state, the community was already on the back foot for which Baruah has already submitted a petition in the Supreme Court of India. 

“According to the 2011 census report, there are at least 11,000 transgender people in the state which might have increased to more than 20,000 by now. Many of the new entrants are either too scared to come out fearing embarrassment or have come from other parts of the city. So, a screening by the government is required to differentiate the original inhabitants from the shifting crowd,” said Baruah.

The transgender people feel that producing legacy data is difficult for many of them because, in most of the cases, when a family finds out that the child is a third gender, either they shun them or send them to the hijra guru (families of transgender).

Further, most of them do not have enough documents with themselves. Those who have, due to the fear of insult and embarrassment, have not kept any contact with their real family members and so, approaching them for legacy data is out of question. 

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Members of transgender community during a procession in Guwahati

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