Locating Transgender Justice in Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Prabuddha Bharat
Mx S. V. D. Chandrasekhar, MPhil Scholar, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, West Bengal, India
In this paper a selective reading of key Ambedkarite texts will be deployed to outline a theory of transgender justice. This theory will be imbued with the comprehensive anti-caste worldview espoused by Ambedkar and argue for a need to develop an intersectional understanding of transgender justice based on Ambedkar’s works. I argue that this is necessary for two reasons. First, it is crucial from an intersectional lens wherein the lived realities of Dalit-bahujan trans persons is studied. Second, Ambedkar’s direct attack on Brahmanism as the bedrock of Indian society, polity, and economy, and his emphasis on liberty, equality, and fraternity - which he termed as ‘maitree’- lay the foundation for an egalitarian worldview. This is essential to outline a theory of transgender justice rooted in the specificity of the Indian context.
This paper will discuss five principles of Abedkarite transgender justice. These principles are by no means an exhaustive list but are rather an indicative list. They will show how a queer reading of Ambedkar’s works will illuminate a path to transgender justice by virtue of his conception of humanity and desire for a macrosystem embedded in the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The first principle is identifying the epistemic and historical foundations of society and seeking to rectify them. The Brahmanical foundation of the macrosystem and its connection to trans marginalisation and dehumanisation is explored. The second principle is nurturing a grand vision for social change. Anti-caste utopias are explored and their need for envisioning a just world for trans persons. The third principle is developing agency and unlocking human capability by unleashing the transformative potential of education. The fourth principle is reimagining the social relations based on the values of love and maitree. The fifth principle is claiming political representation and power, which trans persons are systemically deprived of.
Keywords: Ambedkarite, transgender, justice, power, caste, Brahmanism.