In a first, DGCA lists steps for transpersons to secure pilot licence
Adam Harry, a 23-year-old transgender man from Kerala, whose application was rejected two years ago, has also been invited by the aviation regulator to apply again.
The country’s aviation regulator said on Wednesday that it welcomed transgender applicants for commercial pilots licences and invited a 23-year-old transman to apply again after his application was controversially rejected, allegedly because he was undergoing hormone therapy.
The three-page note issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) paves the way for transgender people to apply for a commercial pilots licence and marks a victory for Adam Harry, a transgender man from Kerala, whose application was rejected two years ago.
“There are no restrictions on transgender people to obtain pilot’s licence and ratings; subject to the individual ensuring compliance of relevant provisions of age, educational qualifications, medical fitness, knowledge experience etc. among other things as specified in Aircraft Rules, 1937,” said the note signed by YS Dahiya, Group Captain, DMS (CA) DGCA.
The DGCA also noted that Harry was due for renewal of his current medical assessment at an Indian Air Force boarding centre, and issued him a three-point qualification criteria – including applying for a name change, registering as transgender on the body’s e-governance portal and getting a medical clearance.
“I’m happy about the response DGCA issued to my concerns. This is the beginning of the change. I know the journey is hard as I am still fighting in a world that considers male and female as ‘normal’. I am looking forward to flying in India without compromising my identity as a man,” Harry told HT.
His case was the first-of-its-kind in India.
A commercial pilot licence is the one that permits the holder to act as a pilot of an aircraft and be paid for his/her work
Harry is a private-pilot license (PPL) holder from South Africa who secured admission to the Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology in Thiruvananthapuram in January 2020 under the Kerala government’s welfare fund for transgender people. A PPL allows its holder to fly an aeroplane as a hobbyist.
He was undergoing hormone therapy as a part of his gender affirmation therapy but stopped it in August 2020 to clear his medical assessment. On January 3, 2020, the DGCA doctor diagnosed “gender dysphoria” and labelled him “temporarily unfit” – which became the basis for his eventual disqualification.
The DGCA statement said transgender personnel may also be issued fit medical assessment, provided there were no associated medical, psychiatric, or psychological conditions. “Use of hormonal replacement therapy is not disqualifying if the applicant has no adverse symptoms or reactions. However, flying duties are not permitted while the dose of hormonal treatment is being stabilised or until an adequate physiological response has been achieved and the dose no longer needs changing,” the statement said.
In its statement, the aviation regulator also said it followed global best practices for transgender applicants and guidelines used by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for medical examination of a transgender candidate. “It is pertinent to mention that a methodology of handling such scenarios on a ‘case to case’ basis is being followed.....it is pertinent to mention that world over, a methodology of handling such scenarios on a case-to-case basis is being followed,” said the DGCA.