In a landmark ruling, the Indian Supreme Court has officially recognized transgender as a third gender. The Court said; “It is the right of every human being to choose their gender.”
The two Judge Supreme bench added, in its ruling on Tuesday; “Recognition of transgender people as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue,”
“Transgenders are also citizens of India” and they must be “provided equal opportunity to grow”, Justice KS Radhakrishnan said.
“The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender.”
The court further ordered the Indian government to begin providing transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minority groups, as well as key amenities.
Official statistics estimate that there are over two million people with transgender issues living in India today.
The lawyer for the petitioner, National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa), Anita Shenoy said; “We are quite thrilled by the judgment,”
“The court order gives legal sanctity to the third gender. The judges said the government must make sure that they have access to medical care and other facilities like separate wards in hospitals and separate toilets,” she said.
Human rights campaigners also welcomed the ruling saying that transgender people live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracized because of their gender identity.
Most Transvestites, cross-dressers, and transgender people in India make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.