The Indian government has instructed states to let transgender people use the public bathroom of their choice.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said in guidelines sent to state governments this week that transgender people should receive equal treatment in the government’s program to achieve universal sanitation coverage.
“In many communities, the third-gender may often be dissociated from the mainstream,” the notice said. “[The sanitation program] 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 community or public toilets.”
The ministry’s guidelines also pointed out that a number of transgender people have played a “huge role” in helping to spread the message about the government’s initiative to achieve universal sanitation coverage, which the government hopes to achieve by 2019.
“Where suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognized and honored to break any stigma around them, and to also enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment,” the ministry said.
The ministry’s guidelines were welcomed by activists, but despite progress in recent years, many transgender people in India continue to face discrimination and lack certain rights, such as the right to adopt children.
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