Mulla Faizal was assigned and recorded as female at birth despite having intersex characteristics. As an adult, he had naturally developed more male characteristics and obtained medical and psychological certificates confirming his gender as male. Additionally, Mulla Faizal also underwent surgical procedures to align himself with the male gender. Consequently, when he approached the District Registrar (Births and Deaths) to change his name & gender on his birth certificate, his application was rejected. Faizal filed a civil suit against the Registrar, which was dismissed by a single judge. He then filed an appeal before the High Court of Gujarat.
ISSUES & DECISION:
The Court had to decide whether Faizal was entitled to change his name and gender in his birth certificate. Faizal argued that this was not a case pertaining to “transsexualism” (sic.). He claimed that he had been registered as a female at birth due to certain “deformities”. On this basis, he argued that his request for name and gender change should be accepted.
The District Registrar (Births and Deaths) argued that under Section 15 of The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 , changes are only allowed in case of erroneous entries. Faizal argued that the recording of his gender at birth as a female was erroneous since he displayed intersex characteristics at the time of birth. The Court agreed and noted that Section of the Act read with the Rule 15 thereunder placed an obligation of the Registrar to make any necessary changes in order to correct an erroneous entry. It directed the Registrar to make necessary inquiries and seek medical opinion and consequently make the requested change. Thus, the Court set aside the lower court order and allowed the appeal.
This case was significant because the Court here recognised a distinction between intersex persons and transgender persons. It also placed an obligation on the authorities to change name and gender on birth certificates. However, it is crucial to note that this case preceded NALSA v. Union of India, where the Supreme Court recognised the right of all individuals to self-identify their gender.