KOCHI: A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that transgenders have the right to wander about or associate with like-minded people and cannot be kept confined to their parents’ home. The order was issued by a bench comprising Justice V Chitambaresh and Justice K P Jyothindranath while dismissing a petition filed by Tessy Joseph who alleged that her son Aby James, who has been under treatment for a ‘mood disorder’, has been illegally detained by a gang of transgenders.
While quoting writer and musician Chaz Salvatore Bono, himself a transgender, the Bench said, “There’s a gender in your body. For 99 percent of people, they are mismatched. That’s all it is. It’s not complicated, it’s not a neurosis. It’s a mix-up. It’s birth defect, like a cleft pal ate.”
The mother, a Kochi native, submitted that her son is not a transgender person, either physically or psychologically. His mental aberration of mood disorder was misused by several persons and he was put under psychological pressure on the influence of transgender groups. Even his name was changed to Arundhathi, in conspiracy with the interested transgender gang. Her son was trapped by transgender persons and are using him to suit their ill and lusty motives, which may, in turn, lead to criminal acts also, said the mother.
Appearing before the court, the 25-year-old Aby said he is a transgender by birth and does not suffer from any sort of mental aberration as alleged by his mother. He said he changed his name to ‘Arundhathi’.
After the court ordered a medical examination, it was found that the orientation of the person was normal and he has no thought disorder or hallucinations or inappropriate mood indicative of any mental incompetency. Aby informed that he used to dress like girls from childhood, used to keep company with girls during school life and that he has aversion to males and avoids their company.Aby said: “I have the mind of a woman and the features of a man which don’t suit me.”
He said he realised there are people like him only when he saw the Malayalam movie ‘Chendakottu’. He asserted that unless he is allowed to live like a woman, he will commit suicide. He also desires to undergo corrective surgery to change the sex stated in the report of the medical board.
The Bench observed it was clear the person is undergoing an identity crisis which reminded the court of the oft-quoted words of Iago, the villain, in Shakespeare’s play Othello -- “I am not what I am.”
The court noted the medical report which confirmed that, though Aby has normal male genitalia on external examination, he fits the label ‘transgender’. The court said the self-identification of the detenu as a transgender is clearly expressed by speech, mannerism and clothing which the court noticed during the interaction and was fortified by the medical report.The court also cited a Supreme Court order which stated that transgenders are neither male or female who, however, fall within the expression ‘person’ entitled to all rights recognised by law.