Gee Imaan Semmalar
Justice KS Radhakrishnan Panicker and Justice AK Sikri delivered a Supreme Court judgment on April 15,2014. That is all that can be said clearly. Who the judgment includes or excludes in its understanding of transgenders, whether transgenders can identify as male/female or third sex, what is being guaranteed to us as citizenship/civil rights etc is characteristically lost in legalese as is the case in a lot of judgments.
Who filed the petition?
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes, filed a social interest litigation on providing third gender status to hijras, on reservation and other issues in 2012. In 2013, this matter was tagged together with a petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Poojaya Mata Nasib Kaur Ji Women's Welfare Society, an organization working for kinnars, a transgender community. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender rights activist from Mumbai intervened in this case with the help of lawyer Anand Grover (project director of HIV/AIDS unit of Lawyer's Collective in Delhi).
Who is being granted third gender status by the SC judgment? How are they described?
It is not clear who is understood as transgender in this judgment:
"TG may also take in persons who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth, which include Hijras/Eunuchs who, in this writ petition, describe themselves as "third gender" and they do not identify as either male or female. Hijras are not men by virtue of anatomy appearance and psychologically, they are also not women, though they are like women with no female reproduction organ and no menstruation. Since Hijras do not have reproduction capacities as either men or women, they are neither men nor women and claim to be an institutional "third gender". Among Hijras, there are emasculated (castrated, nirvana) men, non-emasculated men (not castrated/akva/akka) and inter-sexed persons (hermaphrodites). TG also includes persons who intend to undergo Sex ReAssignment Surgery (SRS) or have undergone SRS to align their biological sex with their gender identity in order to become male or female. They are generally called transsexual persons. Further, there are persons who like to cross-dress in clothing of opposite gender, i.e transvestites. Resultantly, the term "transgender", in contemporary usage, has become an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including but not limited to pre-operative, post-operative and non-operative transsexual people, who strongly identify with the gender opposite to their biological sex; male and female" pg 10