Bombay HC Rules Trans Woman Can Contest Election Under Women’s Reservation
A transgender woman candidate contesting a ward reserved for women candidates can run for election according to her “self-perceived gender identity,” the Bombay High Court ruled on Saturday. The ruling quashed an order that prevented the woman from contesting the reserved ward on the grounds that it was not reserved for transgender candidates.
Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan approached the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court after her nomination form — despite being complete in all respects — for the village panchayat elections in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district was rejected solely because she is transgender, and the ward is reserved exclusively for women.
“The [government] has introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, and has permitted a transgender person to have a right to be recognized and such transgender is permitted to have a right to self-perceived gender identity…. In the present case, the petitioner has opted for the female gender as her self-perceived gender identity,” Justice Ravindra Ghuge, who heard the petition, held in his judgment.
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During the hearing, Jaan’s lawyer assured the court that “… in Jaan’s lifetime, she would not switch over to male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for female gender, in future, save and except if there is a reservation provided for transgenders in public life.”
The court upholding Jaan’s right to choose her own gender identity is a victory for trans rights and inclusion. However, the fact that she had to assure the court she wouldn’t switch her gender again for political gain is evidence of society’s complete misunderstanding of transgender people — suggesting we still have a long way to go before transgender candidates are judged by their platforms, rather than for their gender identity.