Gender change through surgery a constitutional right: HC
The Allahabad High Court also instructed the state government’s counsel to provide information about the implementation of guidelines aligned with the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision.
PRAYAGRAJ The Allahabad High Court has reaffirmed an individual’s Constitutional right to undergo gender transition through surgical procedures. In a recent ruling, the court directed the state’s director general of police (DGP) to decide on the application (as per law) from a female constable seeking permission for sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
The court also stated, “The authority may request the submission of relevant materials and documents to assess whether the application warrants genuine consideration. Such a request must be supported by cogent material.”
The court also instructed the state government’s counsel to provide information about the implementation of guidelines aligned with the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision. The apex court’s directive focused on ensuring medical care for transgender individuals within hospitals, along with provisions for separate public facilities and social welfare initiatives aimed at their betterment.
Justice Ajit Kumar’s observations on August 18 came during the hearing of a writ petition submitted by an unmarried female constable in the U.P. Police. The petitioner claimed to be experiencing Gender Dysphoria and expressed a desire for SRS to align her physical appearance with her true male identity.
The petitioner’s legal representative said, “The petitioner submitted the request for SRS authorisation on March 11, 2023, to the Director General of Police in Lucknow, U.P. However, no decision has been reached in this regard, leading to the filing of this petition.”
The petitioner’s counsel primarily referenced the Supreme Court’s case of National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India and others to argue against withholding the petitioner’s application.
In that landmark case, the Supreme Court had recognised transgender individuals as the ‘third gender’ and accorded them the right to self-identify as male, female, or third gender. The argument rested on the 2014 ruling that deemed gender identity an essential aspect of an individual’s dignity, compelling the respondent authorities to act on the petitioner’s case.
The bench noted, “There should be no doubt that a person experiencing gender dysphoria, whose emotional and psychological attributes align with the traits of the opposite sex, possesses a constitutionally acknowledged right to undergo surgical gender change.”
“Failing to acknowledge this inherent right would perpetuate gender identity disorder syndrome within our modern society. In certain cases, this syndrome can have severe consequences, including anxiety, depression, negative self-perception, and discomfort with one’s own sexual anatomy. When psychological interventions prove ineffective in alleviating such distress, surgical gender transition should be deemed necessary and actively encouraged,” added the bench.