“Today will be remembered as a Gold Letter Day. India truly is a democracy where rights of all individuals are protected.” When Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, a well-known face of the transgender community in India, said this soon after the Supreme Court recognised transgender as a third gender, she was speaking of reality.

It was indeed, the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA), under the Supreme Court, which had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the problems faced by the transgender community in 2012 saying that transgender persons were deprived of the fundamental rights available to the other two sexes—male and female— and are not considered as the third sex.

Transgender are all persons whose own sense of gender does not match with the gender assigned to them at birth. They include trans-men and trans-women (whether or not they have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment or laser therapy), gender-queers and a number of socio cultural identities, such as kinnars, hijras, aravanis, jogtas, and other local names given to this community.

“Why can a transgender not become a political leader, doctor, police officer or even a safai karmachari? Why does he/she have to beg on the streets and face discrimination,’’ Ms. Tripathi told reporters.

Lawyer and human rights activist, Colin Gonsalves said it was a happy day for all human rights activists as well. The community is ridiculed everywhere, particularly in the police stations, he said while describing it was a progressive judgment. Similar sentiments were expressed by Anjali Gopalan of Naz Foundation which is a petitioner in another case to de-criminalise gay sex.

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