Kerala HC upholds right of 19-year-old transwoman to live on her terms

The court emphasized that LGBT individuals have the right to autonomy over personal decisions and a dignified existence.
Image for representational purpose for LGBTQ rights.
Image for representational purpose for LGBTQ rights.File Photo

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has emphasized that the desires and choices of a 19-year-old transwoman, who was allegedly detained and forced to undergo conversion therapy, must be respected, allowing her to live her life on her terms. The court affirmed that the transwoman has the right to choose how she wishes to live.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan and Justice P.M. Manoj issued this order in response to a petition filed by Adithya Kiron of Kalady, Ernakulam, a friend of the transwoman, alleging that she was illegally detained by her parents.

The Division Bench highlighted that the Supreme Court has recognized homosexuality and bisexuality as natural variants of human sexuality, asserting that LGBT persons have little or no choice over their sexual orientation. The court stated that LGBT individuals, like heterosexual persons, are entitled to privacy and the right to lead a dignified existence without fear of persecution. They are entitled to complete autonomy over intimate decisions related to their personal life, including the choice of partners.

The transwoman, present in court, recounted her admission to a hospital in Kochi, where she was coerced into signing a consent form for therapy aimed at altering her gender identity and was administered medication without her informed consent. She stated that she is pursuing a B.A. in Animation and Graphic Designing and expressed her desire not to return to her family residence, citing violations of her autonomy, right to self-determination, and freedom of choice. She also mentioned being subjected to violence by her natal family and being forced to suppress her gender identity.

The parents and sister of the transwoman informed the court that they do not object to her expressing herself as she desires, emphasizing their primary concern for her safety and education. They stated that the doors of their home would always remain open to her, welcoming her to join them at any time.

After interacting with the transwoman, the court found that she had firmly decided to live separately from her parents due to familial violence following her self-determination as a transwoman.

In granting her liberty, the court reiterated that being 19 years of age, she has the right to choose how she wishes to live.

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