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India third gender ruling: High court decrees 'new' gender, self-identified sex

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An India third gender ruling has been decreed this week, as the Supreme Court of India has stated that transgender and transsexual people now have the right to self-identify themselves as such, marking a “third” legal gender. A number of human rights groups are calling the ruling nothing less than a highly notable verdict, and CNN shares this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, that many in the nation view it as a fundamental right that has finally been granted to the public.

First submitted as a plea back in 2012, the India third gender ruling enables both transsexual and transgender people to identify themselves as not simply male or female, but rather as a “third” gender. Now, these individuals will not need to provide any medical evidence of their sexuality in order to be officially recognized by the Indian government as part of this third sex.

One of the major proponents behind the passing of this historic bill is Tripti Tandon, a new lawyer. A formal plea was placed before the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court back in 2012 by the National Legal Services Authority of India in order to support the growing “hijira” — also known as third-gender — local communities.

According to the press release on the India third gender ruling and Tandon’s recent statement, discrimination cannot be tolerated when it comes to personal identification:

"The Supreme Court ruled that everyone has the fundamental right to have their gender identified and recognized in the law without any discrimination," Tandon said. "And it's self-identification of the gender as opposed to medically or surgically assigned one.”

Reuters News also reveals this morning that the Indian High Court has provided the public with a set number of guidelines to clarify the new decree and its proper enforcement to both federal government members and state administrators. Officially, the ruling asserts that because “gender identity is integral to the dignity of each individual and remains at the core of ‘personal autonomy’ and ‘self-determination,’” such a law was needed to be passed.

These third gender self-identifications, hijiras, and related communities should be accepted as a third gender because they supersede “binary genders under Constitution and laws.” Ultimately, the ruling gives the right for females to identify themselves as males, males to identify themselves as females, and in-transition individuals to assert themselves within the third gender option.

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