Brought to India by her parents and sent to an educational institution forcibly so she could be “reformed”, a 19-year-old transgender NRI has received support from the Delhi High Court, which granted her police protection Tuesday.
The ordeal started four months ago when the teenager, who “identifies as male”, had a trivial argument with her mother over her hairstyle. When her mother confiscated her cell-phone, she discovered that the teen had a girlfriend. According to the woman, who did not wish to be identified, the NRI family — they migrated to California when she was three years old — first tried verbal and physical violence to “fix” her.
When that didn’t work, they brought her to India on the pretext of visiting her ailing grandmother. Once here, they took away her passport and Green Card and told her she would stay in the country and “learn to be a proper girl”, she told The Indian Express.
In July, the woman, who was studying neurobiology at a prestigious college in the US, was forcibly enrolled at Dayalbagh Educational Institute in Agra and told to “keep her mouth shut” about her gender preference and sexual orientation.
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With nobody to help, she reached out to the National Centre for Lesbian Rights in the US, which put her in touch with LGBT activists in India. On September 10, she left the institute and came to Delhi with help from activists working with an NGO that works for the rights of transgender persons.
On Tuesday, she was granted police protection by the Delhi High Court after she filed a plea alleging that her father — an “influential businessman” with “deep roots in Uttar Pradesh” — had “activated the state machinery” to deprive her of her “fundamental rights to life, liberty and education”.
In her plea — filed by advocates Maneka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju and heard before the bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul — she also alleged that her parents were trying to coerce her into getting married to a man of their choice. The plea also stated that they had registered a false FIR for kidnapping against the NGO activists who helped her reach Delhi.
The plea also alleged that on Monday, UP Police personnel raided the residences of two activists in south Delhi without any search warrants to find her, and also detained an activists for over six hours at Kalkaji police station.
Invoking communist playwright Safdar Hashmi, the bench observed that such behaviour was “sheer bigotry”, and directed the Delhi Police to provide her protection.
The bench also issued notices to the UP Resident Commissioner and the woman’s father to respond to the allegations raised in her petition. The plea has sought release of her travel documents and “safe passage” to the US. She has also sought protection for activists who have helped her.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, the woman said she “only wants to return to the US and get back to school”. She said she was trying to arrange scholarships and financial aid so she does not have to live with her parents. “I have a huge support system in the US. There are numerous friends who have been through similar situations and who will help,” she said.
Additional Standing Counsel for the Delhi Police Avi Singh assured the court that the woman, currently staying with some activists in south Delhi, would be provided “adequate protection”. The court also directed that the phone numbers of the local beat constable and the area SHO be given to her so she can contact them “in the event of any threat or apprehension”.