In what is being seen as a historic move, the Union Home Ministry has set the ball rolling for recruitment of transgenders in Central Armed Police Force. Transgenders can soon aspire to lead combat troops in central paramilitary forces as the government is mulling allowing them take the annual UPSC exam for recruitment as officers in these forces deployed across the country for various internal security duties.
News agency PTI reported citing sources in the security establishment that with the central government notifying the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in December last year it is now essential to provide transgenders a "level playing field" in all avenues and services including combat policing.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also sought time-bound "comments", in favour or against, from the five paramilitary or Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) so that the Union Public Service Commission can be intimated whether or not to include the transgender category in the soon-to-be published notification for this year's CAPFs Assistant Commandants (ACs) exam.
The AC is the entry-level officer rank in the five CAPFS of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
A senior CAPF commander privy to the development said the forces have discussed the "challenges and opportunities" that can come with transgenders in the officer ranks.
"What we have found after the preliminary analysis is that this is a watershed moment for the CAPFs like a few years ago when women were recruited for the first time in the constabulary and officer ranks."
"The transgenders will add to the rich profile of these forces. Also, if uniformed forces will not lead by example how can we expect other sections of the society to shed old inhibitions?" he said.
It was analysed that there can be issues of acceptance among the troops in the initial phases but like women gelled well as colleagues and commanders in these forces, the transgenders too can, he said.
Another officer said the forces have analysed that they will not have to prepare any additional infrastructure for transgender officers as all existing living units and toilets are gender-neutral.
"If a person of any gender has, what we call officer-like qualities (OLQ), then they can join the CAPFs on that merit alone. Also, all aspirants need to clear specific medical, mental and physical benchmarks for being recruited as officers in combat to lead their troops," he said.
A third officer said the forces have conducted analysis of some civil organisations who have recruited transgenders and the feedback has been encouraging.
"The recommendations of some of the CAPFs have been received and a decision will soon be taken after analysis. Once the gates are opened for any category of candidates, securing the job is absolutely on merit that is analysed by way of a written exam, physical tests and interviews," a senior home ministry was quoted by PTI.
The Times of India report says, the Border Security Force (BSF) was first to send a positive recommendation to the MHA. Responses from CRPF, ITBP, SSB and CISF is also expected soon. The move shows the Modi government's push for the inclusion of transgenders in government jobs that have been historically denied to them.
Once approved, the UPSC will advertise the option of ticking the transgender box, like male and female, in the gender column of the CAPFs (ACs) exams along with the estimated strength of officers required by each force this year, an official told PTI.
The Ministry of Personnel, early this year, had also asked all ministries and departments to modify relevant examination rules to include 'transgender' as a separate category of gender for central government jobs.
The legislation notified last year provides that no establishment shall discriminate against transgender persons in matters relating to employment, recruitment, promotion and other related issues.