JGLS prepares Handbook on Rights of Transgender & Gender-Diverse Persons in India

Inside JGU

May 2024

JGLS prepares Handbook on Rights of Transgender & Gender-Diverse Persons in India

The Handbook on the Rights of Transgender & Gender-Diverse Persons in India prepared by the Law and Marginalisation Clinic, Centre for Justice, Law and Society (CJLS) of Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) was unveiled by Justice A.K. Sikri, a former judge in the Supreme Court, and Prof.(Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, JGU, at an event in May.

The Handbook was prepared under the supervision of Professor Dipika Jain and Professor Natasha Aggarwal as part of the clinical course titled ‘Trans Justice and the Law Clinic’ in collaboration with Transmen Collective, Egale, and Feminist Future Initiative at University of California, Santa Barbara. The Handbook attempts to demystify the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and seeks to empower transgender and gender-diverse persons in asserting their constitutional and statutory rights.

In his address on the occasion, Justice Sikri emphasised the importance of the Handbook, and delved into his experiences in writing and delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court in National Legal Services Authority v Union of India in 2014. He stated, “We have come a long way from the judgement, to the Act and now resources like this handbook which will help the community realise their rights and fulfil the promises of the Constitution of India.” He explained the importance of identities, not only from jurisprudential perspectives but also to ensure respect and dignity within society.

In his address, Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar reaffirmed JGU’s commitment to clinical legal education and remarked, “It is important for law schools to ensure engagement with social justice movements.” He emphasised the intellectual rigour and collaborative approaches required in developing a handbook that is comprehensive, accessible and can be used on-ground by activists and community members.

Introducing the Handbook, Professor Dipika Jain and Professor Dipika Jain Natasha Aggarwal explained that the work of the Law and Marginalisation Clinic is grounded in intersectional and community-centric approaches. The objective and outcome of each clinical project is framed by friends from the trans movement. The Handbook is no exception, as friends from the trans movement emphasised the need for a resource that comprehensively deconstructs the Transgender Persons Act. They expressed their gratitude to members of trans, gender-diverse and intersex communities who offered their expertise and feedback through consultative processes and reviews.

The Handbook demystifies the provisions of the Transgender Persons Act, the Transgender Persons Rules, relevant judgments of the Supreme Court and various High Courts as well as state-specific welfare schemes for transgender and gender-diverse persons. Specifically, the Handbook simplifies the process for obtaining identification documents that reflect a person’s gender identity and explains the rights of transgender and gender-diverse persons in the realms of education, employment and healthcare.

The Handbook uses hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate how a transgender and gender-diverse person can assert their rights under the law. Moreover, these hypotheticals account for unique barriers faced by individuals across socio-political and geographical contexts, including Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi and Muslim persons and persons with disabilities. The Handbook will be an important tool for the legal empowerment of activists and organisations working on-ground as well as transgender and gender-diverse persons across India.

The launch event also featured a panel discussion with Madhavi Goradia Divan (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India), Akkai Padmashali (Social Activist and Founder of Ondede), Nu Misra (Founder, Revival Disability India) and Ritwik Dutta (Journalist, BBC). The panel was moderated by Dr. Aqsa Shaikh (Professor of Community Medicine Founder of Human Solidarity Foundation).