Rajasthan High Court Recognizes Right to Choose Gender Identity, Orders Change in Service Records

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In a significant ruling, the Rajasthan High Court has emphasized the fundamental right of individuals to choose their own gender identity, stating that it is an integral part of their personality, self-determination, dignity, and freedom. The court’s observation came in response to a petition filed by a person who was assigned the female gender at birth but later underwent gender reassignment surgery (GRS) to become male.

The petitioner, who had secured a job under the General Female Category in 2013, requested a change in their service records to reflect their current gender identity. They argued that without such a change, they and their family would face difficulties in accessing the benefits of their service. The state authorities opposed the request, contending that the petitioner was appointed as a female candidate based on the identity provided at the time, and any change in gender required a declaration from the Civil Court.

Recognizing the importance of gender identity, the single-judge bench emphasized that it is a fundamental aspect of one’s life and should be protected. The court highlighted the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, including the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Referring to the Rigveda, the bench noted the existence of a third gender and acknowledged the ongoing struggles faced by transgender individuals in society.

The court also cited the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019, a legislation aimed at providing equality and respect to transgender persons. It stated that denying individuals who have undergone GRS prior to the enactment the right to change their gender details would defeat the purpose of the law and lead to discrimination. The judgment directed the petitioner to apply to the District Magistrate for a change in their gender details and subsequently update their service records accordingly.

The court adjourned the matter until September 4 and instructed the authorities to file a compliance report. The ruling underscores the importance of respecting individuals’ chosen gender identity and upholding their constitutional rights. It serves as a progressive step towards recognizing the diversity of gender identities and ensuring equality and dignity for all individuals in Indian society.

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