Feb 27, 2022

Where the law stands on transgender rights in India

 The Supreme Court has issued a notice in response to a petition which seeks to establish a Transgender Welfare Board and appoint a Standing Committee for investigating serious abuse against transpersons by the police. In this context, let us look at existing transgender rights in India.

Who is a transgender person?

A transgender person is any person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to them at birth. This includes:

  • A trans-man or trans-woman (whether they have undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery, hormone therapy, laser therapy, etc.)
  • A person with intersex variations
  • Any genderqueer person
  • People having socio-cultural identities such as kinner, hijra, aravani, jogta, etc.

Transgender identity

Any transgender person can apply to the District Magistrate for issuing a certificate of identity as a transgender person. However, a parent or the guardian must make the application on behalf of minors. 


Identity documents in India recognize the “third gender” (transgender) as a category. Commonly accepted government identity documents where options for Male, Female and Transgender are available include PAN Card, Aadhar Card, Passport and Voter ID.


If you come across any forms or procedures which do not give you this option, then you can:

  • Ask the authorities what options you have
  • Take the help of lawyers, NGO’s to assist you in obtaining the identification proof
  • Carry a copy of proof of your gender identity.


No one can harass or touch you inappropriately just to verify your gender. If you face any form of harassment, you should file a complaint with the police and take the assistance of a lawyer during this process. 

Discrimination against transgender persons

Government educational institutions must provide inclusive education and opportunities to transgender people. Educational institutions cannot discriminate against transgender people and must treat them on an equal basis with other people.

No establishment should discriminate against any transgender person in matters relating to employment, including recruitment, promotion, etc. This applies to establishments including government bodies, companies, firms, cooperatives, associations, agencies, and other institutions. 

Further, no person or establishment can discriminate against transgender people by denying them healthcare services. Transgender people have the right to access goods, accommodation, benefits, opportunities, etc. that are available to the public. Moreover, no one can deny a transgender person’s right of movement and right to occupy or purchase any property.

Punishment for offences

The law punishes anyone who:

  • Forces or convinces a transgender person to get involved in forced or bonded labour.
  • Obstructs a transgender person from having access to a public place to which other people have access.
  • Forces or causes a transgender person to leave a household, village, or other place of residence.
  • Injures or endangers the life, safety, health, or well-being of a transgender person.

The punishment for doing any of these acts is imprisonment of six months to two years, along with a fine.