BY NIRMALA GEORGE
NEW DELHI -- India's top court on Tuesday issued a landmark verdict recognizing transgender rights as human rights, saying people can identify themselves as a third gender on official documents.
The Supreme Court directed the federal and state governments to include transgender people in all welfare programs for the poor, including education, health care and jobs to help them overcome social and economic challenges. Previously, transgender Indians could only identify themselves as male or female in all official documents.
The decision was praised as giving relief to the estimated 3 million Indians who are transgender.
The court noted that it was the right of every human being to choose their gender while granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.
"All documents will now have a third category marked 'transgender.' This verdict has come as a great relief for all of us. Today I am proud to be an Indian," said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist who, along with a legal agency, had petitioned the court.