Madras High Court urges Centre to pass Transgender Rights Bill

The Madras High Court allowed a writ petition filed by a transgender man praying that state educational authorities make changes in his school and college certificates, so that they reflect the status of his chosen gender.

The matter came up for hearing before Justice N Kirubakaran. In passing the order, the judge has also alluded to the need to pass the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014.

The petitioner, R Vishwa, had submitted that although he was born biologically female, he discovered during his college years that he was suffering from Gender Dysphoria. Consequently, he underwent sex re-assignment surgeries.

The transition was made a part of public record after it was published in the Official Gazette in September 2016. Accordingly, the changes were also made in other government records such as driving license, passport, PAN card and Aadhaar card.

However, requests made to school and college authorities to incorporate appropriate changes in educational certificates were rejected. The rejection was made on the ground that there was no provision in law to make such changes after the completion of education. This, despite Vishwa having produced medical certificates and the Gazette notification supporting his transitioned status.

As a result, it has been pointed out, that part of his social identification identifies him as male, whereas the other part identifies him as female. This conflict of identification has in turn made it difficult for him to find a job. A representation made earlier this month to university authorities on this matter has not received any response, as per the petition.

On hearing the matter and considering the presented evidence, Justice Kirubakaran observed that it is clear that the petitioner has completed his transition to male, both physically and psychologically. Therefore, it is upon the educational authorities to carry out his request to change his name and sex to reflect this transition. The authorities were ordered to do the same within four weeks.

Quite significantly, the judge also noted that given the contemporary relevance of the issue of transgender rights, it is pertinent to implead the Union Government in the matter. The need for the Union Government to bring about an appropriate Act in this context was emphasised. Referring to the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, which is still pending approval in the Lok Sabha, it was observed that serious measures have to be taken to pass the Bill.

Therefore, the Court suo motu impleaded the Union Health and Family Welfare Department, the Union Secretary of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Union Ministry of Law and Justice in the case. Learned ASG Su. Srinivasan, who took notice on behalf of the impleaded parties, was directed to get instructions with regard to the following queries:

1)    When the Bill would be passed by the Lok Sabha, as it is pending for more than two years.

2)    Whether is it possible to consider transgender as a separate special group for the purpose of education, employment and other social benefits.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on September 4.

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