Trans people in India can now apply to have their gender identity legally recognised online through a new government portal.
The portal, launched on Wednesday (25 November) by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), will allow trans people to have their gender identity certified by the district magistrate without visiting government offices.
The ministry said the new portal would help protect the privacy of trans people by allowing them to self-declare their gender identity online, The Times of India reports.
Trans people who want to use the system will be asked to upload an affidavit declaring their “self-perceived” gender identity.
They will then be sent an identity certificate that confirms their correct gender identity, and they will receive an updated identity card within 30 days.
The ministry also said trans people would be able to register “grievances” through the online portal, and will eventually link them to various government facilities and schemes they can access online.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also said that the online portal would help them build a database of trans people in India – a move that may come as a concern to the country’s trans community.
Trans people who have previously applied to the government to have their gender identity legally recognised will not need to apply through the online portal.
Shelters are also being opened in India to accommodate trans people kicked out by their families.
The ministry has also announced that it is setting up shelters for trans people who have been forced out of their homes in India, with the first such home opened in Vadodara in Gujarat on Wednesday (25 November).
By 31 March, 2021, it is expected that shelters will have been opened in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Kolkata, Japiur, Raipur , Bhubaneswar and Manipur.
The news comes just one year after India passed a trans rights bill that was branded “dehumanising” by trans people in the country.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed despite significant opposition from the trans community in India, with many criticising sections that delivered lesser sentences for people convicted of crimes against trans people.
The bill also failed to offer any protections for trans people in public spaces or in the workplace, despite a lengthy campaign from activists.