A University of Delhi graduate who identifies as a transgender has filed a petition against the Department of Publications of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and DU. The petitioner, Riya Sharma, is a 23-year-old student who identifies as female but was assigned a male identity at birth. Sharma’s birth certificate and CBSE documents have gender and name details of her male, pre-transitioned self, which she is attempting to change.
She claimed to have sent two applications to the Department regarding the changes but as per the CBSE guidelines, such changes can be made only before the publication of results. University norms require the changes to be made in the board documents before changes are made in the university documents. As per the petitioner, the Department of Publications of the CBSE required that a sex reassignment surgery is undergone before the change of name and gender. In this regard, she was asked to produce an affidavit and a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) certificate to execute the change in name. She is contesting this requirement by mentioning a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that allowed for only self-identification as a requirement, and held that insistence on a sex reassignment surgery for declaring one’s gender was “illegal and immoral”.
The petition was initially directed at DU and the Centre but included CBSE after the certificate demand. The Delhi High Court had also issued notices to the parties for not taking an interest in the issue and not changing the guidelines by themselves speedily. Sharma has also faced harassment at the hands of classmates, and while giving examinations as officials made her get a certificate from the university every time she gave an exam. Of her days in the School of Open Learning, she said, “SOL (School of Open Learning) have classes every weekend. Students in the class were constantly making fun of me. They were teasing me with slurs and cracking jokes on my gender. There was no other transgender person in the class and I felt so humiliated. I didn’t go after that”.
The university introduced the ‘Other’ gender option for its postgraduate courses’ forms in 2014 (and for undergraduates in 2015) which was hailed as a step forward. However, instances of institutional and societal discrimination probably also account for the fact that in 2016 only 15 applications of this category were received, signaling that immediate attention needs to be directed towards this category of students.
Sources: India Today, News18 , livelaw.in, Times of India
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat