Seeking a definition of the term ‘transgender’ from the Supreme Court, the Centre told the Delhi high court on Wednesday that rules for including a third gender option in the UPSC examinations cannot be framed without a proper clarification of that word.
An application seeking clarification on the term ‘transgender’ has been filed, the Central government’s Department of Personnel and Training and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) told a division bench of Justices Mukta Gupta and P.S. Teji.
“Since the Supreme Court judgment did not clarify the term ‘trangender’, we have already moved an application for clarification on the definition of transgender. After clarification, rules can be framed,” the central government said, asking the high court not to pass any interim order in the case.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking quashing of the UPSC notice for not including transgender as a gender option in the application form for civil services preliminary examination.
The court had earlier asked the central government and the UPSC why the transgender category was not been included as an eligibility criteria for the examinations when the Supreme Court has declared such individuals as third gender.
In April 2014, the Supreme Court created the “third gender” status for ‘hijras’ or transgenders and asked the central government to treat them as “socially and economically backward”.
Earlier, transgenders were forced to write male or female in the gender column.
The Supreme Court had said transgenders would be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis of third gender category.
Filing its response, the central government said that as the application for modification or clarification on the issue was still pending with the apex court, “no decision or order has been passed by the central government for declaring transgender persons as third gender”.
“As such, the inclusion of transgenders in the application form (of UPSC) at this stage has not been carried out,” the government said.
It added that the apex court judgment had observed that “even gay, lesbian, bisexual are included by the descriptor as ‘transgender'”.
However, the stand of the government is that the concept of gay, lesbian, bisexual is based on the ‘sexual orientation’ of the person, while the term ‘transgender’ has to do with the person’s own deep sense of gender identity.
“Worldwide, the term used is LGBT, that is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender; that in view of the same, the transgender persons may also be gay, lesbian or bisexual because of their sexual orientation, but per se, gay, lesbian and bisexual are not transgender persons,” the government said.
“From a plain reading of the Supreme Court judgment, it appears that all transgender persons have been treated and declared as ‘third gender’. However, the definition of ‘transgender’ remains unclear,” the government said.
The petition filed by advocate Jamshed Ansari sought inclusion of transgenders as an eligibility criterion or gender option in the online application forms for the civil services exam, saying it would “benefit the transgender community who are socially excluded from public employment and are suffering from social backwardness in the society”.
In the absence of third gender option, transgenders were unable to apply for the civil services (preliminary) examination scheduled for August 23, the plea said.
The court posted the matter for July 27.