The state of Transgender People in India

The Central Government has informed the Kerala High Court that currently, transgender persons are not legally allowed to enter the National Cadet Corps and the armed forces. The Government also stated that it is their prerogative to create a new division for the third gender. In light of this statement, let us look at the rights afforded to transgender people under the law.

In India, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 protects the rights of transgender persons and provides for their welfare.

A transgender person is any person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth. This includes:

  • A trans-man or trans-woman
  • A person with intersex variations
  • Any genderqueer person
  • People having socio-cultural identities such as kinner, hijra, aravani, jogta, etc.

Educational institutions which are funded or recognised by the government must provide inclusive education and opportunities to transgender people under the law. These educational institutions are not allowed to discriminate against transgender people and have to treat them on an equal basis with other people.

No establishment should discriminate against any transgender person in matters relating to employment, including recruitment, promotion, etc. This applies to establishments including government bodies, companies, firms, cooperatives, associations, agencies, and other institutions. 

Further, no person or establishment can discriminate against transgender people by denying them healthcare services. Transgender people cannot be denied access to goods, accommodation, benefits, opportunities, etc. that are available to the public. Moreover, no one can deny a transgender person’s right of movement and right to occupy or purchase any property.

A transgender person has the right to be recognised as such a person, and has a right to self-perceived gender identity. Any transgender person can apply to the District Magistrate for issuing a certificate of identity as a transgender person. In the case of a minor child, the application should be made by the parent or guardian of the child.

  • Transgenders do not enjoy a legal recognition in India like most of the Asian counterparts.
  • However, some states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Odisha recognise transgenders as the third gender.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, intended towards the protection of transgenders is yet to be passed.
  • The Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male.  In addition, the person’s gender must not match the gender assigned at birth.
  • The bill includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.

The law punishes anyone who:

  • Forces or convinces a transgender person to get involved in forced or bonded labour.
  • Obstructs a transgender person from having access to a public place to which other people have access.
  • Forces or causes a transgender person to leave a household, village, or other place of residence.
  • Injures or endangers the life, safety, health, or well-being of a transgender person.

The punishment for doing any of these acts is imprisonment of six months to two years, along with a fine.