The third gender is now recognised as a part of Indian society across most areas officially on application forms. The Indian railways is the latest to add this option to their reservation forms. Here's a look at areas where the third gender is now official:
The Indian Railway Ticket Reservation Forms now include the "transgender/third gender" among the gender options. This is in compliance with the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court of India in the case of NALSA v. Union of India.
The Railway ministry in its circular stated, "Supreme Court (in the judgement) has directed that Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the parliament and the State Legislature. It has, therefore, been decided to include the third gender/transgender option alongside male/female in reservation /cancellation requisition form. This information will be captured by the system and tickets to transgender will be issued on full fare."
In February this year, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) announced that it had included the third gender in its proposal forms. This was a historic move as LIC has over 70% of insurance market share in India. "The move is also a reflection of the changes in society and income profile of the transgender community. Over the years, their sources of livelihood have broadened, boosting their income, which is one of the key considerations for buying life insurance," financial planner and LIC agent Poonam Rungta told The Better India. In fact, the National Pension System, among others, also recognises the third gender.
In 2015, the Reserve Bank of India directed all banks to include the third gender in all their forms and applications. The RBI notification read, "It has been brought to our notice that transgender people face difficulties in opening accounts as there is no provision for them in the account opening and other forms. Banks are, therefore, directed to include 'third gender' in all forms/applications etc. prescribed by the Reserve Bank or the banks themselves, wherein any gender classification is envisaged."
The third option of 'other' has been included on ration cards but this has been a battle for many transgenders who have had to go to court to obtain their rights. It was in 2015 that the Allahadbad High Court issued a landmark judgement for transgenders under the National Food Security Act, 2013. Allahabad High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice S.N. Shukla stated that "The salutary public purpose, underlying the enactment of Section 13 of the Act can be furthered by incorporating a situation where a transgender can be recognized as a head of an eligible household." The court ruled that the reference to gender, on the application forms for issuance of ration cards, submitted under the National Food Security Act, 2013, the expression 'other' as under 'female/male/other' would include a transgender.
India is one of the countries that focused on transgender issues much before many other Western nations. The third gender was included as a gender option on Indian passports in 2005. Passport applications have the options of M (male), F (female) and E (eunuch).