Akshita Pandit


In National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India legally recognized the existence of a 'third gender' identity to protect and promote self-determination for persons identifying as 'transgender'. Although the judgment might seem as a breakthrough for the transgender rights movement, I believe that it has glaring contradictions with regards to the socio-political environment where the 'third gender' is situated. The main argument of my paper is to critique such contradictions in the existing policy approach and suggest an inclusive and self-determinative policy framework for persons identifying as transgender. To substantiate, the first chapter of the paper lays the theoretical background by dismantling the heteronormative binary of gender identity and personhood and thereby securing socio-political legitimacy for transgender identities in gender discourse. The following chapter places transgender persons in light of the dismantled gender binary by examining the political viability of a 'third gender' as a framework for legally recognizing an umbrella serial collective of various transgender identities. The succeeding chapter contextualizes the proposed 'third gender' framework by critiquing the existing legislative and judicial policy strategies in India through the lens of coalitional self-determination. In conclusion, I juxtapose Indian policy models with international jurisprudence and sociological studies to arrive at an inclusive and malleable 'third gender' framework for safeguarding the rights and interests of transgender persons.

Publication Date