Rajasthan High Court Recognizes Fundamental Right to Choose Gender Identity

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In a landmark ruling, the Rajasthan High Court has acknowledged the fundamental right of individuals to choose their sex or gender identity, considering it an integral aspect of one’s personality and essential for their self-determination, dignity, and freedom. The court, presided over by Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand, emphasized that every person has the right to enjoy all human rights fully. As a result, the court ordered the authorities to consider modifying the service record of a person who had undergone gender reassignment surgery (GRS) after being assigned the female gender at birth. The petitioner, who had legally changed their name and gender to reflect their male identity following the surgery, argued that without updating their name and gender in their service records, it would be challenging for them and their family to avail themselves of the benefits entitled to them through their employment.

The high court referred to the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019, which aims to ensure equality and respect for transgender individuals, stating that denying the right to individuals who had undergone GRS before the enactment of the Act would lead to discrimination. In line with this, the high court directed the petitioner to apply to the district magistrate (DM) for a certificate indicating the change in gender. Once the certificate is obtained, the petitioner can then request the authorities to amend their service records accordingly.

The court adjourned the matter until September 4, with a directive to the authorities to submit a compliance report. The state authorities argued that the petitioner had been appointed as a female candidate based on the identity provided at the time and that a declaration from the civil court was necessary to change sex based on gender identity. However, the high court emphasized that gender identity is a fundamental aspect of an individual’s life and should be respected, highlighting that the right to equality is guaranteed by the Constitution of India. This ruling marks a significant step towards recognizing and protecting the rights of individuals to determine their gender identity and is in line with efforts to promote equality and respect for transgender people in India.

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