The Supreme Court of India’s landmark decision in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India declared transgender people to be the “third gender,” affirmed that the Constitution of India’s fundamental rights apply equally to them, and gave them the right to self-identify as male, female, or third gender.This ruling has been hailed as a watershed moment in India’s quest for gender equality. Furthermore, the court determined that because transgender individuals were viewed as socially and economically disadvantaged, they will be given preference in educational institutions and employment applications.
The petitioner was the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA). It was established with the primary goal of giving free legal assistance to the poorest members of Indian society. The Poojya Mata Nasib Kaur Ji Women Welfare Society, a recognised society and non-governmental organisation, and Laxmi Narayan Tripathy, a well-known Hijra activist, were the other petitioners in the case.
Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri formed a two-judge Supreme Court panel that heard the case. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Radhakrishnan served as a Standing Counsel for a variety of educational and social institutions and held appointments in the High Courts of Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, and Gujarat.Justice Sikri began his legal career in Delhi, where he focused on constitutional law, labour and employment law, and arbitration. He served in the Delhi High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has ordered the federal and state governments to recognise gender identification, whether male, female, or third-gender:
Third Gender Legal Recognition: In recognising the third gender category, the Court acknowledged that fundamental rights are available to third gender people in the same way that they are to males and females.
Persons transitioning inside the male/female binary are entitled to legal recognition: The Court simply declares that they prefer to follow the psychology of the person and apply the “Psychological Test” rather than the “Biological Test” when it comes to legal recognition for those who are transitioning inside the male/female binary. They also state that requiring Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in order to change one’s gender is unlawful.
Public Health and Sanitation: The Centre and State Governments have been ordered to take appropriate steps to offer medical care for transgender people in hospitals, as well as separate public restrooms and other amenities. They’ve also been told to run separate HIV/Sero-surveillance programmes for transgender persons.
Socio Economic Rights: The Centre and State Governments have been requested to give different social assistance programmes to the community and to regard it as a socially and economically underprivileged class. They’ve also been requested to extend reservations in educational institutions and for government positions.
Stigma and Public Awareness: These are the broadest directives: the Centre and State Governments were asked to take steps to raise public awareness in order to better assist transgender people in integrating into society and ending their treatment as outcasts; to take steps to reclaim their respect and place in society; and to seriously address issues such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, and other issues.