The Central Government of India is set to recruit transgender people in the country’s paramilitary force. They may soon be able to lead combat troops in the Central Armed Police Force (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The MHA had sought comments and suggestions in a letter, in favour or against, from the five paramilitary/ CAPFs on their view to induct transgender people into the force. The Ministry is considering the inclusion of “third gender” as officers, and has requested opinions of all CAPFs ‘on the modalities on implementation of commissioning the third gender officers as Assistant Commandants (ACs).’
On July 1, the ministry sent a reminder letter stating: “…the comments for incorporating the issues on transgender as Third gender along with Male/Female in the rules of CAPF (AC) Examination, 2020 is yet to be received from CRPF, ITBP, SSB, and CISF. They are once again requested to examine the issue and furnish comments to this Ministry by July 2 positively for taking a final view on the matter.”
The Assistant Commandants (AC) is the entry-level officer rank in the five CAPFs – Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
BSF, ITBP, SSB, and CRPF have sent it their affirmation without any objections to the MHA’s proposal following the principle of gender neutrality in the force. The CISF, however, has requested more time to “discuss the issue in detail” within the organization. “Seeking more time for discussion, however, does not mean that the CISF is against the move. The force is committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone, irrespective of their gender,” an official said.
Subsequent to the decision, the upcoming UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) Examination will make formal arrangements to include the transgender box in the gender column along with Male/Female in the AC exams. The recruits would secure a job solely on their merits, by analyzing their written exam, physical tests and interviews, said a senior Home Ministry official. “If a person has what they call officer-like qualities (OLQ), then they can join the CAPFs on that merit alone, irrespective of their gender,” they added to the statement.
Officers have lauded this new proposition of the MHA. A CRPF officer in Kashmir Valley said, “When women joined the force in 1986-87, they faced similar issues. If a person is physically fit, gender should not be an issue. We have to evolve over a period of time.”
“The transgenders will add to the rich profile of these forces. Also, if uniformed forces will not lead by example how can we expect other sections of the society to shed old inhibitions?”, stated another Commander.
The latest move of inclusion comes after India passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2019, despite receiving criticism from the community. The Act prohibits discrimination in education, employment, healthcare (among others) against transgender in the country. It also requires an individual to apply for a “transgender certificate” from a District Magistrate and a “change in gender certificate” issued by a hospital as a proof of surgery – which mandates medical conversion to certify as a Transgender.
“I think it [the proposal to recruit transgender people into the paramilitary forces]is a big political gambit for inclusion because the on-ground reality is that nothing has changed for the trans community,” Santa Khurai, a trans rights activist, told VICE News.
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