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The Supreme Court om Monday sought the stands of the Centre and various state governments on a plea for declaring transgenders as citizens with a third category of gender and demanding equal protection and rights for them.

A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also issued notices to four Union ministries – the Social Justice and Empowerment, the Women and Child Development, the Urban and Rural Development and the Health and Family Welfare on a petition complaining that transgenders have been deprived of many of their fundamental rights and privileges which other persons enjoy as citizens.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition, filed by the National Legal Services Authority, the statutory body mandated to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society and organise Lok Adalats for amicable resolution of disputes, also sought reservation for transgenders in educational institutions and job opportunities in public and private sectors, either as a separate category or as being a backward class.

Senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao and counsel Indira Sawhney submitted that transgenders are deprived of their fundamental rights available to the other two sexes – males and females, and are not considered as the third sex.

“The transgenders are deprived of social and cultural participation, are shunned by family and society, have only restricted access to education, health services and public spaces and have restricted rights as citizens such as right to marry, right to contest elections, right to vote, employment and livelihood opportunities and various human rights such as voting, obtaining passport, driving licence, ration card, identity card etc.”

“The transgenders are treated as legal non-entity in violation of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 21 of the Constitution,” the PIL said.

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