‘It is a milestone in achieving equal status for people who fall beyond binaries of gender’

Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict recognising transgenders as the third gender, transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam said it was nothing short of a victory for, and legal recognition of, the community.

“This victory is the first major milestone in achieving equal status, social recognition and justice for people who fall beyond the binaries of gender,” said Ms. Subramaniam, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections as an Independent from Villupuram in Tamil Nadu.

She said the judgment would help families accept transgender children, leading to fewer transgender people turning to beggary and fewer instances of sexual exploitation.

Her organisation, Sahodari Foundation in Auroville, will celebrate the verdict with LGBT friends and supporters on April 17.

Transgenders in Puducherry

The transgender community has welcomed the judgment.

K. Sheethal, president of the Sahodarar Community Oriented Health Development Society, said: “For the past several years, the transgender community in Puducherry has been fighting for a welfare board. There are also several privileges the community enjoys in Tamil Nadu that have not been provided here. With this judgment, we will be able to demand these benefits from the government.”

She said the community in Puducherry had 350 people, and many were forced to beg and enter sex work to make a living.

“Most of them are not even recognised by their own families. With this judgment, our community will be able to live better.

Even job opportunities have been very difficult to come by. With the Supreme Court recognising us as the third gender, this situation will also change,” she said.