India passes law recognizing transgender people as 3rd sex

Displaying India - Transgender Cover.jpg

If 2013 was all about the growth of gay rights, 2014 is definitely shaping up to be a year about expanding upon that idea to include the growing rights and representation of transgender people. That point was definitely made clear this week when India made the landmark decision to allow transgender people to identify themselves as a third gender on legal documents.

According to the Associated Press, India’s highest court issued the verdict on Tuesday, writing that “The spirit of the [Indian] Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender.”

Previously, transgender people could only identify as male or female. But under the new law, federal and state governments have been ordered to include transgender people in all welfare programs for the poor; including education, health care and jobs to help them overcome social and economic challenges.

“All documents will now have a third category marked ‘transgender.’ This verdict has come as a great relief for all of us. Today I am proud to be an Indian,” said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist who was a part of the legal petition to allow the third sex category for India’s estimated three million transgender people.

The court also ordered the government to implement campaigns to reduce the stigma surrounding India’s transgender community, create separate public bathrooms for them, create health departments for their medical needs, and allow them to adopt children.

However, despite making such progress when it comes to the transgender community, India recently reinstated a colonial-era law banning gay sex, which many gay and bisexual advocates fear will allow for police oppression and discrimination against the nation’s gay and bisexual communities.

Well, clearly India is still working on progressing towards a nation of equality when it comes to sexuality, but they’re certainly leading the way when it comes to championing diversity in gender identity. –nicholas robinson

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