Note: I am from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, a very progressive city in a very progressive state. And so, I may not be as objective in writing this, even though, Diversity, LGBT and Women's rights are a top priority for me and I recognize that India has yet to make immense progress.
India is a country steeped in tradition and superstition, both of which cause immeasurable pain to those who don't "belong". And of course, infants have no power to fight the ills they are subjected to. I come from Tamil Nadu, where female infanticide has been a very sad and despicable crime, that the Governments have fought over several years. Female children are seen as a burden, because of the heinous observance of "dowry", which has to be presented to the male side during marriage. This, and the ongoing suppression of women, and other heinous acts against them, extends to transgender and other people who are not perceived as "normal".
In Tamil Nadu, one of the states that is somewhat progressive, right wing forces have yet to fully have an effect. In that environment, transgender folks have been getting some rights and attention in recent times. Hijra, as they are known in India, they are now offered the status of a third gender - a glimmer of hope, given the ostracization and crimes against them.There is an insightful video of transgender issues from Coimbatore, my hometown:
Unnecessary Intersex Surgeries in Children - A Global Problem
If you believe that unnecessary surgeries among intersex children is localized to developing nations, you need a bit of a refresher (See link below). Rest assured, right down from the US, such surgeries are a plague on children, and cause them severe, irreversible physical and emotional trauma. Much awareness, education and regulation is needed to reverse this trend.
In that sense, this news that under the direction of the High Court, the Tamil Nadu Government has passed an executive order to ban such surgeries, except under conditions where the health of the child is endangered is heartening. They are also claiming to form a committee to prevent abuse of the health condition exception.
The careful review of exceptions is critical. California knows this the best. Having passed a law to enforce vaccinations, the State learned that the provisions for exceptions are routinely and heavily abused by extremely irresponsible Doctors and Parents.
One has to wait and see if future Governments in Tamil Nadu, as well as other Governments in other States, and some day, perhaps the National Government of India will follow this lead. It is very difficult to predict how things will go. Women, and minorities of every kind are in danger in India, and face discrimination and victimization routinely. Add to this caste based crimes, honor killings and other issues, the future is still grim. One can only hope that well-meaning courts and governments can act with care and prudence to help intersex children, transgender people, homosexual people, women and other minorities in India.
- News on the ban on intersex surgeries: https://www.reuters.com/article/india-lgbt-intersex/indian-state-bans-unnecessary-surgery-on-intersex-babies-idUSL5N25O22X
- Unnecessary Intersex Surgeries in the US: https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/07/25/i-want-be-nature-made-me/medically-unnecessary-surgeries-intersex-children-us
- California tries to deal with vaccination exemptions: https://www.apnews.com/e82739a3289647d39b0cf1c791628e17
- Image, Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adorable-baby-baby-feet-beautiful-266011/