Is Gender Change Legal in India?

The article talks about the rights of eunuchs and discusses the hardships faced by them along with their legal and fundamental rights as a “third gender”

Eunuchs, a castrated male is also known as a transgender person or a Hijra, are those who are not accepted as either men or women in India. They belong to one of the most ignored and unfairly discriminated strata in Indian society and are a totally distinct gender. Hindu eunuchs or hijras are expected to perform dances, songs, and blessings as part of their holy religious obligation during births and weddings. Eunuchs are considered to possess amazing divine power by many Hindus.

Hindus, on the other hand, are equally concerned about being cursed by the hijras. Hijras have experienced both respect and fear. According to activists, most of these persons live in poverty on the periphery of society and are rejected because of their gender identification. The majority of them rely on begging, prostitution, singing, and dancing for a living.

According to human rights organisations, they frequently experience severe discrimination and must identify as either male or female in most public settings. In India, the eunuch group is dispersed, with the majority residing in the western and northern states and a smaller number in the southern states. However, Transgender people are accepted as the third gender in some states, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Odisha.

Hardships Faced By Transgenders In Indian Society

In contemporary culture, transgender people come from every colour, nationality, religion, and social class; but, because of “what they are” and “how they are,” they have never led respectable lives. Due to the rigid, forced compliance to sexual dimorphism throughout recorded history, they are subjected to misunderstandings and agony.

Beyond their ceremonial duties, Eunuchs are never allowed to work or attend school since they are demeaned in Indian society. They frequently suffer from poverty as a result, having to rely on begging and prostitution to get by. In addition to being mistreated by law enforcement, refused access to medical care, and insulted and verbally harassed, they are also victims of violence and harassment. Eunuchs are not allowed to take part in politics, decision-making processes, social and cultural activities.

They have endured constant verbal and psychological harassment because of it. Due to the rejection of social approval, their lives have always been conditioned to refrain from using colours of the world. They are regarded by society as outlandish individuals who don’t fit within the established moral parameters.

Legal Recognition and Rights of Eunuchs

The Supreme Court of India officially recognised eunuchs or hijras—the third gender—as citizens deserving of the same rights as everyone else and outlawed bigotry against them in the case of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India in April 2014.

Every human person has the freedom to determine their gender, according to the Supreme Court of India, and the question of group identification “is not a social or medical matter, but a human rights issue.” In a historic judgement, the Supreme Court determined that the Indian Constitution, which stated that third-gender people had fundamental rights, applies to transgender people. Without any discrimination based on sexual identity, everyone must be treated with justice and decency.

Fundamental Rights

The Part III of the Indian Constitution grants the people a number of rights and freedoms, including:

Article 14 –

Within the boundaries of India, the State shall not deny anyone’s right to equal protection under the law or equality before the law. They are on an equal ground in terms of employment, healthcare, education, and civil rights. Article 14 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Article 15 –

The State is prohibited from discriminating against any citizen solely on the basis of their religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. This makes it quite clear that discrimination against any individual will result in punishment. People who identify as the third gender are not subject to discrimination, and they enjoy full access to public restrooms and entertainment venues.

Article 16 –

In terms of public employment, there is equal opportunity. The professional opportunities available to transgender people are less favourable than those for their gender-identical peers. The ability to learn and earn is also present in third-gendered people. They have the right to find employment and support themselves under Article 16.

Article-19 –

Protection of rights such as the ability to speak freely, organise associations and unions, and congregate in peace without the use of force. The most significant privilege granted to any Indian citizen is Article 19. The third gender is generally silenced, and those who do so frequently face harassment and even rape.

Article 21 –

People who identify as third gender have a right to respect and dignity in society. It also includes the right to live a life of dignity. A transgender person’s life is just as valued as anyone else’s, male or female. Everyone should show respect for their right to personal freedom, privacy, and opinion.

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Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

The Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Thaawarchand Gehlot, introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019. The law covers the following goals: –

  • To promote eunuchs’ rights and a foundation for transgender people to acquire social, physical, and educational empowerment.
  • Defines the transgender.
  • Residence Rights.
  • Certificate of Identity.
  • Prohibition against discrimination.
  • To protect transgender people from mistreatment and forced labour, offences and penalties are implemented.
  • Medical care.
  • Providing rehabilitation facilities, vocational training, and encouraging their engagement in cultural events are examples of welfare programmes.
  • Creation of the National Council for Transgenders (NCT) to address complaints and develop laws and regulations pertaining to transgender people.

The Indian Passport Authority declared in 1994 that any person, regardless of sex or gender, could obtain a passport. Eunuchs were given the option to select “E” as their gender on passport applications in place of either “M” or “F.”

The Election Commission of India declared a separate identity for eunuchs and transgender people on November 12, 2009. They can identify as “Others” in election roles rather than pretending to be male or female. Additionally, the government started to count the third gender in censuses in 2011. The census form has a checkbox for the third gender as well.

To counteract pervasive discrimination against the transgender community, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has added transgender as a third option on ticket reservation and cancellation forms, besides male and female.


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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