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Transgenders have the right to participate in competitions: Kerala HC

- July 30, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, July 30 (BPNS)

The Kerala High Court, on the other day, has stepped in to protect the right of a transgender to compete in a sporting event. The court in an interim order on Friday held that a transgender person is having equal right to participate in competitions. It was a 29-year-old Anamika of Nileshwasaram, Kozhikode who approached the court for allowing her to participate in the two-day district judo competition senior women category, which started on Saturday.

According to Justice VG Arun, who considered the writ petition, Anamika is a transsexual person whose chosen self-perceived gender identity is a woman. Considering the submission that she had participated in various sporting events at the university level in the transgender category, the court directed the organizers – Kerala Judo Association and Kozhikode District Judo Association – to admit her also in the competition.

“In the absence of any category for participating transgender persons, the petitioner is seeking to participate in her identity as a woman. If the organizers have not made arrangements for participating transgenders, then the petitioner will have to be permitted to participate in her chosen category,” the court said in the interim order.

However, it also added that the organizers should accept the petitioner’s application and do the needful if the time stipulated for submitting applications is not over. “If the application reaches within time, the petitioner shall be allowed to participate in the championship provisionally and subject to the outcome of this writ petition,” it stated.

Earlier, for the petitioner, advocate Dhanuja MS informed the court that Anamika is an active sports person, who had participated in various sports like athletics, judo, wrestling, and others. She also added that even after undergoing sex reassignment surgery, the petitioner actively participated in various sports events at the university level in the transgender category.

“She is eager to participate in the event. She even applied via the online mode. But the organizers informed her that transgender persons will not be allowed to participate in the event,” said Dhanuja, in court.

The court on March 2021 allowed a transgender woman to seek admission into the National Cadet Corps, the youth wing of the Indian armed forces. It was the single bench of Justice Anu Sivaraman who considered the case then. It was then observed that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, recognizes a transgender person’s right to self-perceived gender identity.

“Given the specific provisions of the 2019 act, a transgender person has the right to be recognized not only as a transgender but also a right to self-perceived gender, i.e. the female gender,” said Sivaraman.