Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 7.32.41 PMIn a landmark Supreme Court ruling in India, transgender people will be identified as a neutral third gender, treated as a minority group, granted equal access to social welfare programs, and be provided with quotas for jobs and education. Justice KS Radhakrishnan says this is “not a social or medical issue, but a human rights issue.”

Prior to the court’s decision, transgender persons were recognized as either male or female on official documents.

There are between two and three million transgender Indians who have been alienated, living in poverty and prostitution, begging for help, or discriminated against in hospitals.

“The judges said the government must make sure that they have access to medical care and other facilities like separate wards in hospitals and separate toilets,” says Anita Shenoy, a lawyer for the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Shenoy says her organization is “thrilled” with the decision.

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