By Maddiee Jones
A new gender option will be made available in India for transgender individuals
The new option, which will be labelled as “T”, was announced by the railway board in a letter to all zonal railways.
However, activists argued that this option still forced trans individuals to pick between binary gender options.
There are an estimated 2 million people in India who are considered third gender. This community is also referred to as the hijra, or the more traditional term, kinner.
Activists within this community have worked tirelessly to be recognised by religious and political officials, and managed to take their case all the way up to the Supreme Court in India.
In 2014 the Supreme Court created a “third gender” status for transgender individuals.
Before this landmark decision, people had only the option of choosing “male” or “female”in the gender column for government documents such as passports and bank forms, but now are able to choose “TG” (third gender), “Other” or “T” (transgender) as options.
Indian culture has long recognised the fluidity of gender, with a number of demi-gods in Hindu scripture described as being a third gender.
While the colonisation of India by the British forced this fluid gender movement underground, it remained a part of Indian culture, and in recent years has experienced a resurgence in the political sphere in India, with more and more individuals from the third gender movement stepping up for political office and religious positions.
Homosexuality is illegal in India under Section 377 of the penal code, which is based on outdated British colonial law.
The century-old law was brought back into effect by a court ruling in 2013, outlawing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.
Shocking statistics last year showed that hundreds of men were being arrested under the reinstated anti-gay law, raising fears of a homophobic purge.