Tamil Nadu orders age relaxation for transgenders for police job

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TN govt orders age relaxation for transgender persons applying for police posts. The age relaxation is on the lines of SC/ST candidates – however activists say, trans persons should get further relaxations since many of them drop out of school.

The government order comes following a writ petition filed by K Aradhana, a trans woman in 2018. She was 29 years old when she attempted to apply for recruitment online, but her application was not accepted because she was above the prescribed age of 26. The court in its interim order directed the recruitment board to keep one post vacant, and to entertain the application of the petitioner regardless of the age, subject to the result of the writ petition.

Arardhana's manual application was then accepted and she appeared for the written examination. And while her writ petition was pending, three more transgender candidates – Deepika, Thenmozhi and Saratha – also filed petitions before the court seeking age relaxation for attending the common recruitment for the post of Grade II police constables/jail warders and firemen for the year 2019. The High Court allowed them to write the exams as well.

And while the move to introduce relaxations has been welcomed, trans rights activist Grace Banu, says the community requires a more lenient age relaxation. "This is a very welcome move in the right direction. But at the same time, the transgender community is not the same as SC/ST. We are more oppressed than anybody else on a socio-economic and gender basis. Our community deserves a greater age limit because our community members tend to drop out of school due to gender-untouchability harassment meted out to us," says Grace Banu.

According to senior counsel Jayna Kothari, the upper age limit prescribed by the impugned notification for other categories of applicants such as SC/ST persons was 29 years, for Destitute Widow applicants was 35 years and for Ex-Servicemen applicants was 45 years, which was a relaxation of 3 years, 9 years and 19 years respectively when compared to persons from BC, MBC, De-notified Communities and Transgender Persons. No separate age relaxation of any kind has been provided to transgender persons as they have simply been grouped under the category of MBC. The notification does not take into consideration that transgender persons were a socially and educational backward class who have compromised access to education and employment opportunities, on account of which they should be provided with relaxations in the application process, she added.

In fact, for the purpose of fixing upper age limit, there was no rationale in clubbing transgender applicants with MBC category especially when transgender persons face many hurdles and difficulties in accessing education and gaining employment.

Referring to a study commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission in 2017 having found that only 46% of transgenders in the country were literate and 94% were either unemployed or employed in informal sector, the petitioner, Deepika, 27, said, it was essential to provide maximum relaxation possible for transgenders in public recruitment processes. “Not allowing transgenders to apply even for the post of Grade II constable due to age barriers amounts to a major obstacle for the community as a whole,” she claimed. 〔With Inputs fromn Agencies〕

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