Kochi, June 12 (PTI): The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that a transgender person had “the right to wandering about or associate with like-minded people” and could not be compelled to be in the parental home.
“The freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India takes within its sweep the right of a person to live as a transgender,” it said, quoting a Supreme Court judgment.
A bench of justices V Chitambaresh and K P Jyothindranath was passing a detailed order on a habeas corpus petition filed by a transgender person’s mother, who claimed that the 25-year-old was a male and was being illegally detained by members of the transgender community.
In a brief order last week, the bench had disposed of the petition allowing the trans-woman, who had appeared before it, to live according to her will after a medical examination cleared her of any psychological problems.
A habeas corpus petition is filed to set at liberty a person believed to be kept under illegal detention.
The petitioner had lamented that she could not bear the sight of her “son” in a robe for women nor the rechristening of “himself” as “Arundhathi”.
She had also said that her “son” had shown no inclination to return home and was wandering with other transgenders, thereby exposing himself to the risk of sex-change surgeries.
Rejecting her submissions, the bench said, “The transgender was undergoing an identity crisis, which reminds us of the oft-quoted words of Iago, the villain in Shakespeare’s play Othello: I am not what I am.”
“The transgender in question appeared before us dressed as a female and asserted that he is a transgender by birth and does not suffer from any sort of mental aberration as is being alleged by the petitioner,” the court said.
The court had earlier directed medical/psychological evaluation of the transgender after it was alleged that the person was a psychiatric patient.
Quoting from the medical reports, the bench said it was found that the orientation of the transgender was normal and that she had no thought disorder or hallucinations or an inappropriate mood indicative of mental incompetency.
“The self-identification of the person as a transgender is clearly expressed by speech, mannerism, clothing etc., which we noticed during our interactions and which was fortified by the medical report,” it added.
The Supreme Court had held that transgenders were neither males nor females who, however, fell within the expression “person entitled to all rights recognised by law”, the court said.
“The transgender undoubtedly has the right to wander about or associate with like-minded people and cannot be compelled to be at her parental home as wished by the petitioner, who is before us with folded hands and tearful eyes,” it added.
The bench, in its judgment, also quoted Chaz Salvatore Bono, a lawyer, writer, musician and actor, who was a transgender.
“There’s a gender in your brain and a gender in your body. For 99 per cent of people, those things are in alignment. For transgenders, they are mismatched. That is all there is to it. It is not complicated, it is not a neurosis, it is a mix-up. It is a birth defect, like a cleft palate, Salvatore Bono had said,” the bench noted.