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Read the full judgement here

(2018) 2 KLT 1073


High Court of Kerala


Justice V Chitambaresh & Justice K.P Jyothindranath


Tessy James is the mother of an adult transgender woman. She filed a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that some members of the transgender community had taken away her “son”. She also argued that her “son” suffered from psychiatric disorders and required evaluation and treatment.


The issue before the High Court was whether Tessy James’ daughter could be directed to be produced and handed over to their mother. 


Tessy James’ daughter appeared before the Court. She claimed that she was a transgender woman and did not suffer from any mental aberrations, as alleged by her mother. Tessy James argued that she had a history of psychiatric treatment. On this basis, the Court directed that her daughter undergo a medical examination.

A team of doctors examined the psychiatric condition of Tessy James’ daughter for two days. They found that she did not have any disorder, hallucinations or inappropriate moods which would indicate any mental illness. The report stated that she had gender dysphoria and is a transgender person. Along with the medical reports, the Court also took note of her self-identification, speech, mannerisms and clothing to affirm her transgender identity.

The Court held that all persons were entitled to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Referring to the Supreme Court decision in NALSA vs Union of India, the court recognized that “gender identity lies at the core of one’s personal identity, gender expression and presentation and, therefore, it will have to be protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.”

The Court held that Tessy James’ daughter had the right to associate with like-minded people. Additionally, it held that she could not be compelled to reside at her parental home. Thus, it dismissed the mother’s habeas corpus petition.