India high court rules transgender a third gender

By Kyle Johnson,

India's high court ruled that transgender people are a third gender and they are to receive rights similar to other minority groups in the country.

The Supreme Court ruled that "It is the right of every human being to choose their gender." Judge KS Radhakrischnan said, "Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue."

The term 'hijira' in India is the most often heard term used to refer to transgender, eunuchs, transvestites, transsexuals and cross-dressers, reports BBC News. The lawsuit came about as many feel that transgender people are often discriminated against in India, making it difficult to get a job or even be admitted into the hospital.

The high court's ruling will allow transgender people to be included in education and job quotas in India, which is similar to affirmative action.

According to the Hindustan Times, activists were happy, with petitioner Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi saying, "The progress of the country is dependent upon human rights of the people and we are very happy with the judgment as the Supreme Court has given us those rights."

India's Supreme Court also said that the government will put together a committee to investigate and better understand the societal struggles transgender people go through in the country.

BBC notes that Nepal and Bangladesh previously have recognized a third gender, with the former doing so back in 2007.

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