Kerala High Court Orders Trans Woman to Undergo Psychological Test


Jun 8, 2018


In 2014, the Supreme Court declared that a trans person in India has the right to identify as such without having to take any sort of medical test. In other words, it is an individual’s unequivocal right to identify their own gender.

This week, in a direct breach of this order, the Kerala High Court has ordered a trans woman to take a psychological test to determine if she is, in fact, a trans woman. As reported by Scroll.in, the HC was prompted by a petition filed by the woman’s mother, which asked that her 25-year-old “son” be ordered to return to living with her. The mother said her “son” was suffering from a “mood disorder” after being brainwashed by the local transgender community.

The 25-year-old woman in question appeared before a local magistrate in April to maintain that she had realized she was trans at the age of 11, asserting that she was not being held by the transgender community against her will.

Her mother then petitioned the High Court, alleging that her daughter was, in fact, being held against her will. After hearing her petition, which said that her daughter was being illegally detained against the grounds of Article 226 of the Constitution, the HC ordered the psychological test. The test was supposed to take place yesterday, although its results have not yet been made public.

It is not the court’s job to determine an individual’s gender, and any kind of test administered to determine gender identity is questionable at best, and completely bogus at worst. The 2014 SC order stated that “no one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including SRS, sterilization or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity.”

Furthermore, if the case is a matter of illegal detention, it seems entirely parenthetical to the case to order a medical test to prove the woman’s gender identity. If the HC did not believe the woman’s statement in April, which was that she lives with the transgender community of her own free will, they should have taken action to verify her statement, not her gender identity. And the other aspect of her mother’s petition, that the woman should return to living with her parents at the age of 25 because of a “mood disorder,” directly contradicts the spirit of the SC declaration that gender is not a medical condition to be treated.

This is all to say that both this petition and the High Court order in response to it, at their core, are simply cases of poorly-disguised transphobia. Taking the 2014 Supreme Court declaration at face value, the decision should be unambiguous: this is a clear infringement on a person’s right to their own gender identity.

Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of transphobia coming out of Kerala in recent months. In early April, a Kerala professor announced, to much outrage, that women who wear jeans will “give birth to transgenders.”



Written By Urvija Banerji

Urvija Banerji is the Features Editor at The Swaddle, and has previously written for Rolling Stone India and Atlas Obscura. When she’s not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, painting, cooking, picking fights online, and consuming large amounts of coffee (often concurrently).


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