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Separate toilets for transgender people: a much needed move

The Delhi government has mandated that all its departments, offices, district authorities, municipal corporations, state-run companies and the Delhi Police have separate and exclusive washrooms for transgender persons. The order further stated that trans-people shall continue to be allowed to use gender-based toilets as per their self-identified gender. The agencies have been given a maximum time of two years to build these exclusive toilets.

This is a very important decision when it comes to trans-rights. The toilet is a battleground for transgender rights. It is also a major marker of inclusivity in public spaces being the most private of locations in any space that is used by multitudes. It is a difficult journey of self transformations both physically and emotionally or psychologically for transgender individuals. Toiletries are shared rituals helping us bond over gender identities oftentimes. People’s failure to accept differences and to treat the different ones among them with cruelty and contempt breeds all the hatred and antipathy towards people with non-conforming gender identities. Although discrimination appears in all walls of life, the lack of access to public toilets presents as one of the most urgent and critical faces of this discrimination. 

However, the move comes with its own set of perils. While it aims for creating safe spaces for transgender people, it also runs the risk of further exclusion from the mainstream. What is needed is for the fundamental rights of minority communities to be recognized and for people to understand the concepts of sex and gender. 

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