The government of Kerala passed an order in March 2018 granting special sanction to include the option “transgender” for identification in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC). However, the option was only available to transgender persons if they had undergone sex-reassignment surgery (SRS).
Queerala, an LGBTIQ rights organisation in Kerala, and Zara Sheikha, a transgender woman, challenged the order on the grounds that it violated the principle of self-identification of gender, as directed by the Supreme Court in NALSA v. Union of India. They also argued that government identity cards were also not in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the judgement.
Queerala and Zara Sheikha first approached the department of social justice. When they did not receive a response, they approached the Kerala High Court, seeking to quash the government order. They also prayed for directions to issue identity cards in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines.
The court addressed the following issues:
- Was it inappropriate for the government order to restrict transgender persons who have not undergone SRS from identifying as “transgender” from the SSLC
- Should the government entertain the representations of the two petitioners before the Department of Social Justice?
The Court held that the Department of Social Justice should make a plea to the Government regarding the issue. Subsequently, the Court stated that that Government should appropriate orders within four months from the date of the judgment. Finally, the Court ordered that the Governnment consider the binding decision of the Supreme Court in NALSA v. Union of India before passing the order.