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Transgender community includes Hijras, Eunuchs, Kothis,
Aravanis, Jogappas, Shiv-Shakthis etc., who have been a
part of Indian society for centuries. The Vedic and Puranic
literatures mention “tritiyaprakriti” meaning the third gender
and “napunsaka” meaning someone with the loss of procreative
ability. The word hijra used in the Indian language appears
to be derived from the Persian word hiz, i.e., someone who
is effeminate and/or ineffective or incompetent. Another
commonly used word is kinnar, whereas chhakka is used in a
derogatory context.[1] Though most of the eunuchs seen today
are begging at trafc signals or during weddings, they were a
respected lot during the Mughal rule in the Medieval India. The
word “eunuch” is derived from the Greek word “Euneukhos
which literally means bed chamber attendant.” Hence, they
were put in charge of harems due to their emasculation.[1,2]
During the British rule, they were denied civil rights and were
considered a separate caste or tribe who did kidnapping and
castration of children and danced and dressed-like women.
The LGBTQ group is referred to as the “lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and queer community” which includes those
with gender dysphoria and different sexual orientations. The
lesbian and gay people have been accepted in many parts of
the world and have also got their rights, but the transgender
is still without rights.
PrEvalEnCE of transGEndEr in india
Indian census has never recognized the third gender,
i.e., transgender while collecting census data for years. However,
in the Census of 2011, data of transgender were collected in the
category of “Others” under Gender with details related to their
employment, literacy, and caste. The census revealed the total
population of transgender to be around 4.88 lakh. The data have
been primarily linked to the males section as they are usually
counted as men, but on request, they may be counted as women.
Due to this, it is impossible to comment on the actual transgender
population, though the census has provided an approximate
estimate. The 2011 census also reported 55,000 children as
transgender identied by their parents.[3]
CurrEnt sCEnario
The Supreme Court of India passed a unique judgment in
April 2014[4] stating one’s sexual orientation as the integral
part of personality, dignity, and freedom and identified
transgender as a third gender. In the National Legal Services
Authority (NLSA) versus Union of India case, the apex court
provided the transgender (Hijras and Eunuchs) a legal identity
along with seven other directions. Post the NLSA judgment;
various courts passed favorable orders for the transgender
Based on the NLSA judgment, the Rajya Sabha passed the
Rights of Transgender Bill, 2014. However, the government
then passed another Bill, Rights for Transgender Persons Bill,
2015, modifying on the 2014 bill by removing the provisions
relating to Transgender Rights Court as well as the National
and State Commissions. The 2015 Bill underwent further
changes and another bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in
2016 — the transgender persons (Protection of Rights Bill),
which invited criticism from the transgender and activists.[5]
thE transGEndEr PErsons (ProtECtion of riGhts)
Bill, 2016
Highlights of the bill
The Bill denes a transgender person as one who is partly
female or male; or a combination of female and male; or
neither female nor male. In addition, the person’s gender
must not match the gender assigned at birth and includes
trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations
and gender-queers
A transgender person must obtain a certicate of identity
as proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person
and to invoke rights under the Bill
Such a certificate would be granted by the District
Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening
Committee. The committee would comprise a medical
ofcer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare
ofcer, a government ofcial, and a transgender person
The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender
person in areas such as education, employment, and
healthcare. It directs the central and state governments to
provide welfare schemes in these areas
Offences such as compelling a transgender person to beg,
denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual
abuse, etc. would attract up to 2 years’ imprisonment and
a ne.[6]
Key issues and analysis
The Supreme Court has held that the right to
self-identication of gender is part of the right to dignity
and autonomy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
However, objective criteria may be required to determine
one’s gender to be eligible for entitlements
The Bill states that a person recognized as “transgender”
would have the right to “self-perceived’ gender identity.
However, it does not provide for the enforcement of such
a right. A District Screening Committee would issue a
certicate of identity to recognize transgender persons
The denition of “transgender persons” in the Bill is at
variance with the denitions recognized by international
bodies and experts in India
Transgender: Status in India
[Downloaded free from on Sunday, January 7, 2018, IP:]
Sawant: Transgender status
Annals of Indian Psychiatry ¦ Volume 1 ¦ Issue 2 ¦ July-December 2017
The Bill includes terms such as “trans-men,”
“trans-women,” persons with “intersex variations,” and
“gender-queers” in its denition of transgender persons.
However, these terms have not been dened.[6]
There are several other areas which need clarications such
as certain criminal and personal laws which are currently
in existence and only recognize the genders of “man” and
“woman.” It is unclear how such laws would apply to
transgender persons who may not identify with either of the
two genders. Hence, these laws would need amendments.
The Government of India today has taken a stance and
introduced several welfare policies and schemes for the
transgender which would be a big step forward. These include
census, documentation, issuing of the citizenship ID Cards,
issuing passports along with social, economic, political
transformation, housing, legal measures, police reforms,
legal and constitutional safeguards to prevent human rights
violations of the transgender community and institutional
mechanisms to address specic concerns of transgender people.
MEdiCal lExiCon
The following denitions help in understanding the various
gender-related terminologies:[7-9]
Assigned gender refers to a person’s initial assignment as
male or female at birth. It is based on the child’s genitalia
and other visible physical sex characteristics
Agendered – “without gender,” individuals identifying as
having no gender identity
Cisgender – describes individuals whose gender identity
or expression aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth
Closeted describes an LGBTQ person who has not
disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity
Coming out – The process in which a person first
acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates his or her sexual
orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with
Gender – denotes the public (and usually legally
recognized) lived role as boy or girl, man, or woman.
Biological factors combined with social and psychological
factors contribute to gender development
Gender-atypical – refers to physical features or behaviors
that are not typical of individuals Gender expression – the
manner in which a person communicates about gender
to others through external means such as clothing,
appearance, or mannerisms. This communication may
be conscious or subconscious and may or may not reect
their gender identity or sexual orientation
Gender-nonconforming – refers to behaviors that are not
typical of individuals with the same assigned gender in a
given society
Gender reassignment - denotes an ofcial (and usually
legal) change of gender
Gender identity – is a category of social identity and
refers to an individual’s identication as male, female or,
occasionally, some category other than male or female.
It is one’s deeply held core sense of being male, female,
some of both or neither and does not always correspond
to biological sex
Gender dysphoria – as a general descriptive term refers
to an individual’s discontent with the assigned gender. It
is more specically dened when used as a diagnosis
Gender expansiveness – conveys a wider, more exible
range of gender identity and/or expression than typically
associated with the binary gender system
Gender uidity – a person who does not identify with a
single xed gender, of or relating to a person having or
expressing a uid or unxed gender identity
Gender queer gender queer people typically reject
notions of static categories of gender and embrace a
uidity of gender identity and often, though not always,
sexual orientation. People who identify as “gender queer”
may see themselves as being both male and female, neither
male nor female or as falling completely outside these
Transgender – refers to the broad spectrum of individuals
who transiently or persistently identify with a gender
different from their gender at birth.(Note: The term
transgendered is not generally used)
Transsexual refers to an individual who seeks, or
has undergone, a social transition from male-to-female
or female to male. In many, but not all, cases this also
involves a physical transition through cross-sex hormone
treatment and genital surgery (sex reassignment surgery)
Transphobia - fear and hatred of, or discomfort with,
transgender people.
Neena S. Sawant
Department of Psychiatry, Seth GSMC and KEM Hospital, Mumbai,
Maharashtra, India
Address for correspondence: Dr. Neena S. Sawant,
Department of Psychiatry, Seth GSMC and KEM Hospital, Parel,
Mumbai ‑ 400 012, Maharashtra, India.
1. Michelraj M. Historical evolution of transgender community in India.
Asian Rev Soc Sci 2015;4:17-9.
2. Chettiar A. Problems faced by Hijras (male to female transgenders) in
Mumbai with reference to their health and harassment by the police. Int
J Soc Sci Humanity 2015;5:753-9.
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jurisdiction Writ petition (civil) No. 400 of 2012 National legal services
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(NALSA%20 vs.%20UoI).pdf. [Last accessed 2017 Oct 30].
5. Available from:
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Annals of Indian Psychiatry ¦ Volume 1 ¦ Issue 2 ¦ July-December 2017 61
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of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric
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How to cite this article: Sawant NS. Transgender: Status in India. Ann
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... There still exists a major gap which people fail to realise, that discarding the primitive notions of gender role is enough to tackle the social issue of gender disparity. [3]Gender disparity describes how people are treated differently depending on their gender. Gender roles that are socially established are to blame for this inequity. ...
The purpose of this study is to find out how gender perspective and different voices play a role in the 21st century. Gender perspective primarily focuses on gender based differences with regard to status and power, and how such differences shape our economic world and interest of men and women. The available literature shows that gender inequality mainly focused on men and women only. The Hijras of India are presumably the most outstanding and crowded third sex type in the cutting-edge world. It was seen from existing literature that Hijras in Indian culture face issue in each field. Present Paper will centre on the issues and status of the third gender in states of India (Top 10 Largest to smallest state Ares wise). The present paper is to establish a connection between third sex Community and economic growth of 10 largest states area wise states in India. Transgender individuals face numerous difficulties throughout their life; they are tested inwardly, rationally, physically and socially. Many theoretical researches and studies state clear evidence of a direct relationship between gender inequality and people of Transgender community. So, this study aims to link the Transgender community and how it affects the economic growth of a country. Majorly, Hijras face a two-pronged problem i.e. employment and literacy. So, in this paper, we attempt to analysis link between the Gross state domestic product, employment rate and literacy rate.
... Indian census has never recognized third gender till 2011. The census revealed the total population of transgender to be around 4.88 lakh ,also 55,000 children were identified as transgender by their 5 parents. ...
Background Transgender community faces immense amount of adversities including less acceptance from family and friends, lack of employment opportunities, verbal and physical abuse, isolation and rejection. A lack of knowledge about the biology and health needs of transgender community and a generalized aversive attitude against them are a few reasons for this discrimination. In spite of their increased health needs, they face discrimination from health care professionals including dentists. Currently, there are no psychosocial tool for examining the knowledge,Objectives attitude, and perceptions of dentists towards transgender patients. Accordingly, a tool was developed and tested to provide an instrument for measuring the same. A thorough literature review and expert panel analysis of theMethods questions was done followed by pretesting of the tool. The responses were marked on a likert scale .Reliability and factor analysis were performed using SPSS software. The final factor analysis loaded as two factors with nine itemsResults which were defined as emotional and cognitive perception. The present item pool was named as dentist perception questionnaire which can be used to assess the perception of dentists towards transgender patients. Conclusions Although further testing and refinement is needed, this survey instrument provides an initial and conceptually unique tool for assessing the knowledge, attitude and perception of dentists towards transgender patients.
... NACO in India did a HIV Sentinel Survey in 2017, however, that was limited to assess the prevalence of HIV among Transgender population and does not give insight into their exact numbers (NACO, HIV Sentinel Surveillance: Technical Brief, 2017). Neena Sawant in her article mentions that the Government of India introduced several welfare policies and schemes for the transgender community which include census, documentation, issuing of the citizenship ID Cards and passports along with social, economic, political transformation, housing, legal measures, police reforms, legal and constitutional safeguards to prevent human rights violations and institutional mechanisms to address specific concerns of transgender people (Sawant, 2017). ...
... In spite harassment and abuse for several years Human Rights of the transgenders need to be safe guarded. The Governments third gender sensitive moves in the forms of issuing identity cards, providing housing, voting rights, contesting for elections, schemes, legal aid is commendable [30]. There is a need to sensitize general public about the integration of sexual minorities into society [31]. ...
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... Like other Asian countries, the transgender community in India has existed for centuries (UNDP, 2010a). They are identified by names in different parts of the country-including Hijras, Kothis, Arvanis, Kinnar, Chhakka, Jogappas and Shiv-Shakthis (Sawant, 2017). When the 2011 Census of India had surveyed transgender persons for the first time in its history, their population size was estimated to be 4.88 lakhs. ...
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... Scientific studies estimating the proportion of transgender persons in the Indian population are lacking. (8) In the Census of 2011 for the first time in India, data was collected on transgender persons. Around 4.88 lakhs adults and 54,845 children were estimated to be transgender individuals. ...
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... But this is subject to a wide variation in terms of differing clinical presentations, discrepancies in inclusion of the definition of transgender, cultural diversity specific to this population, and wide variations in the time periods covered in different studies. Scientific studies estimating the proportion of TG in the Indian population are lacking (7). In the Census of 2011 for the first time in India, data on TG was collected. ...
The census data of 2011, 4.88 lakhs adults and 54,845 children were estimated to be Transgender (TG) and 66% of them lived in rural parts of India. TGs have lower rates of literacy, employment, face stigma and discrimination and higher suicidal rates. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, (TGPA) 2019 formulates welfare schemes and programmes including healthcare provisions to facilitate and support livelihood for TG persons including their vocational training and self-employment. The TGPA, 2019 provides a mechanism for the certification of gender identity as transgender or third gender for any age of 18 years and above transgender person.
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This chapter highlights - Capacity assessment for mental healthcare is an essential element in the clinical application of the Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) 2017. - Central Mental Health Authority (CMHA) released a guidance document on capacity assessment - Comprehension, decision making ability and communication form the three vital components of capacity assessment as per the guidance document
Historical evolution of transgender community in India
  • M Michelraj
Michelraj M. Historical evolution of transgender community in India. Asian Rev Soc Sci 2015;4:17-9.
In the supreme court of India Civil original jurisdiction Writ petition (civil) No. 400 of 2012 National legal services authority
  • K S Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan KS. In the supreme court of India Civil original jurisdiction Writ petition (civil) No. 400 of 2012 National legal services authority. Judgment 2013. Available from: uploads/media/Transgender/Transgender%20rights%20case%20 (NALSA%20 vs.%20UoI).pdf. [Last accessed 2017 Oct 30].