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India, Pakistan vs Canada in trans issues

BY NOREEN FAGAN – As Bill C-389  — the trans bill that would add gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code — lingers in the Senate, it is interesting to read what is happening in other parts of the world.

Take India for example. It is not known as a country that promotes sexual minorities' rights; in fact, it has a long history of discriminating against trans people.

However, in the past few months there have been some interesting developments.

For the first time trans people will be included in the census. Until now, trans people were referred to as “unknowns” or “faceless people.” In the 2011 census they will be included in the "others" category: "transgenders would be given a separate code, ie '3' in the names of others, the '1' and '2' being meant for male and female respectively during the ensuing Census 2011."

From a Canadian perspective, being referred to as "others" may not be the recognition we would like to see, but for many trans people in India it is progress.

“This is a leap forward for us. Till now we were unknown people… now, we will have some status in our own country,” says Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist in India.

In the neighbouring country of Pakistan, the government has also made some tiny changes.

The latest report is that trans people will be allowed to choose an alternative sex, other than male or female, on all government identity documents. They are small steps, and somewhat strange ones, but at least they are there. Now all that Canada has to do is to show the rest of the world what we are capable of. Hopefully, in the next parliamentary session, Bill C-389 can surge past the Senate roadblock and be approved.