Jaipur— In a recent landmark decision, the Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur ruled in favor of a transgender male upholding his right to live with dignity and respect. The petitioner, a physical training instructor (Who had become a male from female), in the state government's education department had approached the court seeking intervention to change his name and gender in the service record. His application for the same had been unheard by the authorities since 2018. The PTI had undergone the gender correction surgery in 2017.
The court recognized that the right of a human being to choose his or her gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity, and freedom.
Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand stated that everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The petitioner, PTI Chinder Pal Singh, was assigned female gender at birth and completed studies as a female student by the name of Chinder Pal Kaur. At the age of 32, after being diagnosed with gender identity disorder, Chinder consulted a psychiatrist who found her fit for Sex Reassignment Surgery. Chinder underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2014-2017 at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai.
After the surgery, Chinder Pal Kaur changed his name to Chinder Pal Singh and gender from female to male in the official gazette of India and submitted an application for change of name and gender in his service record. However, even after three years, the education department had not made the changes and the aggrieved petitioner took the court's shelter and filed a Civil Writ petition in 2021 for protection of his rights.
The court ruled that Singh, who has opted for male gender and undergone sex reassignment surgeries, would be recognized as a male gender and is entitled to the change and correction in his service record. The court cited the specific provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which recognizes the right of self-perceived gender identity of a transgender person.
The Justice also acknowledged in the order that the petitioner had even entered into a marital union and fathered two sons. However, due to the incorrect status and identity maintained in his service record, it has become exceedingly challenging for the petitioner to establish his true identity in society.
The court recognized that failure to rectify the petitioner's identity and gender in his service record would not only adversely impact him but also impede his wife and children from accessing the benefits that he is rightfully entitled to.
As per the court order, the petitioner has been directed to submit an application before the district magistrate having jurisdiction.
The district magistrate is required to follow the procedure laid down under the Act of 2019 and the Rules of 2020 to verify the fact of gender reassignment and issue the necessary certificate to the petitioner on being satisfied.
The district magistrate must complete this process within a period of sixty days from the date of the petitioner's application along with a certified copy of the court order.
Upon receiving the certificate issued by the district magistrate, the petitioner can approach the authorities concerned, i.e., the officials of the Secondary Education department, who are obligated to take immediate steps to change the petitioner's name and gender in his service record.
The core issue involved in this petition was “Whether a person who is born as a female with predominantly male orientation or vice versa has a right to get oneself to be recognised as a member of the gender of one’s choice, when the person has undergone surgical procedures for change of physical gender attributes?”
The right of a human being to choose his/her sex or gender identity is integral to his or her personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self determination, dignity and freedom. It was in the above background that the issue involved in the petition was considered.
The court verdict was noteworthy due to the insightful comments made by Justice Dhand, who underscored the significance of gender identity as a fundamental aspect of one's existence.
Justice Dhand said, "According to the Rigveda, in Hindu mythology, three types of genders have been considered - the Male - 'Purush’, the Female- ‘Prakriti’ and the third gender that is the ‘Tritiya Prakriti’. In the recent times the modern Indian society have considered them as the third gender otherwise there was no such identity given to them legally. Still, all is not well, and the third gender people are struggling to constitute a part of the civil society".
He emphasized that gender identity is an intrinsic value that is unique to each person, and it is not merely based on physical attributes.
Justice Dhand further said that genital anatomy problems may arise in some individuals, and not all of them may choose to undergo gender reassignment surgery. However, irrespective of their choices, every individual is entitled to enjoy basic human rights without any form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
These comments reflect the court's progressive stance towards upholding the rights and dignity of individuals from the transgender community.
In the court order, the Chief Secretary of the state has been directed to instruct all district magistrates to establish a separate grievance redressal mechanism forum in each district to deal with complaints relating to violation of provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
This order aims to ensure that transgender persons receive all the benefits of the provisions of the Act and that their grievances are effectively addressed. The Chief Secretary has been given three months to implement this order and submit a compliance report to the court by September 4.
This move is expected to bring about positive changes in the lives of transgender persons and ensure that their rights are protected.