The Delhi High court Monday directed police to escort a 19-year-old transgender “forcibly” deprived of his identity and travel documents by his family to Delhi Airport so that he could return to the US.
Citing the Supreme Court’s judgment recognising the ‘Third Gender’, the high court bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul directed the family of Shivy, who was born Shivani Bhat, to stop harassing him.
Shivy is a green card holder pursuing undergraduate studies in California. His parents had moved to the US when he was 5 years old. His parents brought him to India in June on the pretext of meeting his sick grandmother. Once in India, Shivy’s parents took away his passport and other documents, and enrolled him in a college in Agra to “learn to act like a proper girl”.
Escaping from Agra with the help of NGO activists, Shivy approached the high court for protection and the return of his identity and travel documents.
The plea filed before the high court also alleged Uttar Pradesh Police were harassing activists who helped Shivy.
On Monday, Shivy’s mother, who had appeared in court, returned all travel documents to him and agreed to pay his tuition fee and give financial support to continue his studies in neurobiology. The family also purchased the ticket for his return to the US.
Justice Mridul directed Shivy would “travel unaccompanied and will not be subjected to any harassment by the extended family upon arrival in the United States of America”. The Delhi Police was directed to give Shivy protection till she left. The bench also directed the UP Police not to harass anybody.
The bench dismissed an argument from Shivy’s mother that “she may change her mind about her sexual identity later”.
“Gender identity and sexual orientation are fundamental to the right of self-determination, dignity and freedom. These freedoms lie at the heart of personal autonomy and freedom of individuals. A transgender’s sense or experience of gender is integral to their core personality and sense of being. Insofar as I understand the law, everyone has a fundamental right to be recognised in their chosen gender,” noted the bench in its judgment.
Shivy and LGBTQI activists welcomed the judgment. “The case was an example of family violence. The judge even mentioned that families don’t understand. This is an eye-opener,” said Rituparna Borah, executive director of NGO Nazariya.
Shivy is looking forward to returning to the US and to education. “This court order was possible because LGBTQI activists came forward, because there is so much representation and voices were raised,” said Shivy. “My relationship with my parents is completely broken,” said Shivy, but expressed hope he would be able to continue to stay close to his 11-year-old brothers, who are “very socially aware and supportive” of his decisions.