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Is Gender Change Legal in India?

Look into the legal landscape of gender change in India, uncovering the process and implications. Understand the rights and steps individuals can take for formal gender identity recognition.


This blog discusses Is Gender Change Legal in India along with the rights and challenges faced by eunuchs, also known as Hijras, recognised as the third gender in India. Eunuchs don’t fit into traditional male or female categories and often face discrimination. They play special roles in Hindu ceremonies but are also feared for their supposed curse. Many live in poverty and rely on unconventional jobs like begging and performing.

Human rights organisations note their harsh treatment, where they are forced to identify as either male or female in public. Eunuchs are mainly in the western and northern states, with some recognition in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Odisha, where transgender people are accepted as the third gender. Despite challenges, these regions offer a more inclusive approach to the legal and societal status of transgender individuals.

Hardships Faced By Transgenders In Indian Society

In contemporary society, transgender individuals, representing diverse backgrounds, face societal challenges due to prevailing misconceptions and historical gender norms. Beyond their ceremonial roles, Eunuchs encounter restrictions, including limited work and educational opportunities, leading to financial struggles. Often subjected to mistreatment by law enforcement and denied medical care, they resort to unconventional means for survival.

These individuals face exclusion from political involvement, decision-making processes, and social-cultural activities. Verbal and psychological harassment, coupled with societal rejection, has constrained their lives, limiting their expression and acceptance. It is essential to foster a more inclusive understanding, acknowledging the unique struggles of transgender individuals in their pursuit of dignity and respect within Indian society.

Legal Recognition and Rights of Eunuchs

The Supreme Court of India officially acknowledged eunuchs or hijras, recognising them as the third gender entitled to the same rights as all citizens. The landmark National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India case in April 2014 affirmed the right of every individual to determine their gender, emphasising that group identification is a human rights issue, not a social or medical matter. The historic judgment established that the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to transgender individuals, emphasizing the principles of justice and decency without discrimination based on sexual identity.

Fundamental Rights

Part III of the Indian Constitution bestows various rights and freedoms to the people, encompassing:

Article 14 – Ensuring equal protection and equality under the law, Article 14 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, fostering parity in employment, healthcare, education, and civil rights.

Article 15 – Prohibiting discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, Article 15 mandates punishment for any form of discrimination. The third gender enjoys non-discriminatory access to public facilities and entertainment venues.

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Article 16 – Ensuring equal opportunities in public employment, Article 16 affirms the right of transgender individuals to learn, earn, and seek employment on an equal footing with others.

Article 19 – Granting rights like free speech, association, and peaceful assembly, Article 19 is a significant privilege for all citizens. The silenced nature of the third gender often leads to harassment, highlighting the importance of this freedom.

Article 21 – Affirming the right to respect and dignity, Article 21 underscores the equal value of a transgender person’s life, emphasizing their right to personal freedom, privacy, and opinion.

Update on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023–24, framing it as a prelude to a positive period for India. However, this budget fails to address the challenges faced by transgender individuals who have long been neglected in terms of human development and public opportunities. Enacted on January 10, 2020, following a corresponding Gazette notification, this legislation aims to safeguard the rights and welfare of transgender persons and addresses related matters.

Conclusion – Is Gender Change Legal in India?

A major turning point for humanity, the adoption of the third gender law for transgender persons teaches us to embrace and value everyone for who they are. Eunuchs are a wonderful creation of God and a part of Indian society. It takes bravery to grow into who you are and to change into a new version of yourself.

We should support transgender Indians in their battle for identity, equality, and respect. Increasing awareness of them and the difficulties they encounter is one method to do this. To make the world more equitable, just, and respectful of all people, we must all work together. Society’s mentality is the main problem, and it needs to be addressed. They are capable of achieving miracles; all they require is love and support.

The third gender law is a positive step toward the realisation of everyone’s right to an equal life. To help influence how society sees them. For more information related to the gender change law in India, you can get in touch with Vakilsearch.

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