In a bid to bring further gender inclusivity in the country, the Central Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has issued a circular on Monday saying that the third gender should be allowed to use public toilet facilities of their choice,
This means any person from the third gender would be allowed to use both men or women toilets according to their will.
The circular stated, “In many communities, the third gender may often be dissociated from the mainstream. Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) should make a conscious effort that they are recognized as equal citizens and users of toilets. They should be allowed to use the facility of their choice (men or women) in the community or public toilets.”
The third gender status was accorded in the country by the Supreme Court in 2014. The directive that it mentioned asked for the building of separate toilets for them in public places. However, as of August 2016, Mysore was the only Indian city with a single third-gender public toilet.
The Madras High court on April 4 also directed the Tamil Nadu government to build public toilets for members of the community in parts of the city where they live in larger numbers.
According to Census 2011, there are around ten lakh people in Tamil Nadu who identify as transgender.
The circular also reads, “Wherever suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognised and honoured to break any stigma around them and also to enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment.”
A report by Reuters in 2016 suggested that using a public toilet facility can be tricky for a third gender as they might endure “stares, sniggering, taunts and threats of violence” in the course.
In the US, places like Long Beach, California, have started moving towards gender-neutral toilets which require every restroom to be available for every gender.
The Logical Indian appreciates the move by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to issue such a circulation for inclusiveness of the third gender. However, it is us who need to ensure that this doen’t end up being just a law on papers. We should be all accept the third genders and shouldn’t restrict them to use any public property.