On October 9, K Prithika Yashini stood proudly among her colleagues in the police force in Tamil Nadu. She donned the cap of the sub-inspector at the Choolaimedu police station at 5pm.
Why are we talking about her? Yashini is one among the three transgenders who have been incorporated into the Tamil Nadu police.
In a stark contrast, we have on the same day a press release by the Indian Navy which announced the discharge of the Naval sailor Manish Kumar Giri. The release states he had undergone a sex reassignment surgery from a private facility while on leave. It further says that it was irrevocable and that he had gone through with it on his own accord changing the gender he had applied with to the naval forces. The Navy calling it a breach of Navy regulations has sent him packing as the present rules and regulations do not permit his employment anymore.
The Navy could learn lessons from the Tamil Nadu police, who should be commended for clearing the decks for the third gender to join the force early this year. Incidentally, of the 50 applicants from the third gender, three have qualified for appointment to the post of police constable. The Police Training College is now preparing facilities for the third gender. They will be treated as women and imparted training as per the norms in that category. Thanks to their understanding and wise judgement, transgenders have got recognition in mainstream jobs as well. We could presume that even the police force had no existing regulations but have done so to include the third gender.
As opposed to them, the Indian Navy which is considered to be much more advanced and inclusive have again created controversy by refusing to acknowledge the third gender. Their bias towards the third gender has been seen earlier also in June 2016 when Apsara Reddy, the first transgender journalist in India, said she was not permitted on board a naval ship by soldiers despite being an invitee. The guards allegedly told her that 'these types of people' will not be allowed on board the ship.
Like the police were able to change existing rules and regulations, maybe the Indian Navy should also consider changing the rules. It's time that they translate the respect accorded to women to talk as well. The Indian Navy sails warships whom they give feminine names, let women name a warship and yet they have problems when it comes to having a female sailor manning the sails.
Time to end the mere tokenism. Women need not be handled with kid gloves, if they can sail around the world with an all-woman crew they can also any job a male sailor is required to. In combat, everywhere else women are sharing space with the men at sea, why does India still hesitate in letting go? Stop arguing on grounds of gruelling exercise and danger, if the women had not earned their right to be in a particular position, they will not reach there. Patriarchy gets a boost every time they see this. Stop telling women that this job is tough for them to do. We are trying to breakdown this attitude not enforce it.
Manish who now goes by the name Sabi will be approaching the Supreme Court for justice. Posted at the Naval facility in Vishakapatnam, she argues that she is now an engineer on board the ship but because of her gender reassignment she is forced to work from the base.
Earlier Sabi was in praise of the Indian Navy for accepting her gender reassignment and said that none discriminated against her and even her an alternative deployment but now seems like the narrative has changed with her dismissal. In August this year, the process for her dismissal began.
Sabi made quite a telling statement that her gender reassignment does not affect her ability to pull the trigger or the fight the enemy in anyway. She says it’s quite strange ‘a man once considered fit for the job seven years ago, has lost all his qualities and capabilities just because he changed an organ.’