A progressive judgment
The Supreme Court‚Äôs groundbreaking judgment classifying transgenders as the ‚Äúthird gender‚ÄĚ is emblematic of the concerns the top court has increasingly shown towards human rights and an equality that is promised by the basic tenets of the Constitution.
For years, they heard the derogative term ‚Äúhijras‚ÄĚ and bore a social stigma. They suffered untold indignities, particularly of a sexual nature, because of their indeterminate sexual status. ‚ÄúArdhanaris‚ÄĚ may have been recognised in our ancient mythology and epics but modern society has shown far too much reluctance for too long to grant them a general acceptance and also to legally define their rights.
The ground reality, however, is very different and it may take a lot more time for society to educate itself and be sensitised to ring in the desired social awareness of granting equality to a fellow human being regardless of his sexual status and orientation. The recognition that transgenders are socially and economically backward people opens the door to their finding greater social security. By marking out jobs for them, the government would be doing much towards integrating them with society at large.
These are indeed momentous times for the third gender and a little more than 28,000 of them are eligible to vote for the first time in the general election in the category ‚ÄúOthers‚ÄĚ. The judgment also opens up tremendous possibilities for transgenders in education. What remains to be done is to free all the rainbow people from the threat of their inviting criminal action if they choose to be gay. IPC Section 377 is a challenge the new government has to take up soon lest the momentum be lost.