Gender Identification

Courts have accepted that it is the right of any person to choose their gender if they do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth. This choice is made when a person understands their internal and individual experience of their body, bodily appearance, speech, mannerisms etc. This is known as ‘gender identity’.1 

You have a right to be recognized in India with the gender you identify with. This may be the sex you were assigned at birth or the gender you associate with as you grow up. Throughout your life, you may even change your gender identity multiple times. Currently under the law, three genders have been recognized: ‘male, ‘female’ and ‘third gender’ (transgender persons). For example, you may be assigned the sex ‘male’ at birth, but while growing up you have the right to identify your gender as a transgender person. 

To change your gender identity, you can take the following steps:

  • You can change your name to associate with the new gender you identify with.
  • You can undergo Gender Affirmative Therapy which includes forms of medical interventions by which you can affirm and explore different options for your new gender identity. 

If you have affirmed your new gender, you can start by getting new or updating identification documents to show your new gender identity.

  1. Navtej Singh Johar and Ors. vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. (2018)10 SCC 1, National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.  (2014)5SCC438.[]

Your Right to Recognition of Your Gender Identity

Identification documents play a major role in facilitating your rights such as the right to healthcare, education, etc. and are also important for day-to-day activities such as applying for a SIM Card or a bank account, etc. It is your right to get identification documents recognizing the gender you want to be associated with. 

Genders are recognized in government-issued ID Proofs

Identity documents in India only recognize 3 categories which are “male”, “female” and “third gender” (transgender) . If you come across any forms or procedures which do not give you the option of choosing “third gender” (transgender) , then you can:

  • Ask the authorities what options you have
  • Take the help of lawyers, NGO’s to assist you in obtaining the identification proof
  • Carry a copy of proof of your gender identity. 

You should try and get at least one of the identity proof documents given below so that, the process of applying for the others becomes easier for you. Even though many of the identity documents are common across India, the procedures for obtaining them may be different so it is important to understand the requirements within your state. You can consult someone who has already obtained an ID Proof before, take the help of a lawyer, NGOs, etc.

 

List of Commonly Accepted Government Identity Documents

You can try and apply for some of the identity documents (ID Proofs) given in the list below: 

ID Proof Gender Options Comments
Driving License The central form does not contain options for gender. Some States may have the option. Your form may contain a restrictive line such asContains only “son/wife/daughter of”
Learner’s License The central form does not contain options for gender. Some States may have the option. Contains only “son/wife/daughter of”
PAN Card Options available are Male, Female, Transgender
Aadhar Card Options available are Male, Female, Transgender
Ration Card The central form does not contain options for gender. Some States may have the option. Included in Details of Applicant and Family Members
Passport Options available are Male, Female, Transgender
Voter ID Options available are Male, Female, Transgender

 

State-Centric Processes

The procedures for obtaining each of the identity documents may be different across states so it is important to understand the requirements within your State. You can consult someone who has already obtained an ID Proof before, take the help of a lawyer, NGOs, etc. 

Proof of Gender Identity

Gender identity refers to an individual’s self-identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identified category, like intersex.1 When you face any trouble with officials or people who want you to prove the gender you identify with, you have the option of showing them the documents given below. 

 

Option 1: Affidavit or Undertaking

An affidavit/undertaking is a document which contains facts written by you such as your desired new name, gender you identify with, etc. You will have to verify the affidavit/undertaking with a Notary or Oath Commissioner who will stamp and sign it, thereby making it a valid legal document which can be used as proof. For example, you can use the affidavit/undertaking not only while changing your name but also while getting an Aadhar card, opening a bank account, getting a SIM Card, etc. The affidavit/undertaking will be a document that you can use to prove facts such as the medical procedures you have undergone and the gender you identify with, etc. 

 

Option 2: Medical Certificate

If you have undergone any sex-change operation, you can show the medical certificate from the hospital as proof of gender change. The details of any medical procedures you have undergone can also be written in the affidavit/undertaking so that you have a legal and notarized document as proof.

 

Option 3: Name change in Gazette

If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you associate with and you have successfully published it in the Central/State Gazette, then you can take a copy of the Gazette notification as proof. Gazette notifications itself can be considered proof and it is not necessary that you have to notarize them.

No one can subject you to any form of gender verification, where you are harassed or touched inappropriately in private or in public. This is why the documents given above are important proof of your gender identity. If you face any form of harassment, you should file a complaint with the police and take the assistance of a lawyer during this process.

  1. Navtej Singh Johar and Ors. vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. (2018)10 SCC 1 Para (5).[]

What are the Steps for Changing Your Name?

To change your name, make an addition or delete a part of your name, you will have to follow the steps given below and make sure that it is published either in the State or Central Gazette. You can choose to publish it in the Central Gazette if you want to apply for any higher studies abroad, visa applications, passport application, etc. If you choose to publish it in the State Gazette, then it will only be published within your State but you can use this to update/obtain many identification documents, change your name in school certificates, etc. Follow the steps given below to change your name:

Step 1: Make an Affidavit/Undertaking

You will have to make the documents given below depending on where you want to publish your new name: 

  • Affidavit (for both State and Central Gazette)
  • Undertaking (for the Central Gazette) 

An affidavit/undertaking are documents which contain facts written by you such as your desired new name, the gender you identify with, medical procedures you have undergone, etc. For example, you can use the affidavit/undertaking not only while changing your name but also while getting an Aadhar card, opening a bank account, getting a SIM Card, etc. 

Step 2: Go to a Notary or Oath Commissioner

Find the nearest/local Notary or Oath Commissioner who will verify your affidavit/undertaking. Your document will be stamped after which it will be a valid legal document. You will have to pay a fee for this service. 

Step 3: Advertise your new name in a Newspaper

You will have to approach two local leading newspapers in your state (one in your regional language and one in English) and request them to publish your new name after showing the verified affidavit. You will have to pay a fee to the newspapers to publish the advertisement. 

Step 4: Publish it in the Central or State Gazette

You will have to publish your name either in a State Gazette (within your state) or the Central Gazette (national level). 

State Gazette

You must approach the Government Press of your respective state, fill up the respective form given by them and pay the prescribed fees. 

Central Gazette 

If you want to publish your name in the Central Gazette, you will have to send it to the address “Department of Publications, Civil Lines, New Delhi-54” with the following: 

  • Your verified Affidavit and Undertaking.
  • Advertisement clipping of the original newspaper.
  • Self attested ID proof and 2 self attested passport photos.
  • Copy of proforma with signatures by you and 2 witnesses.
  • CD copy of proforma with your typed name (excluding witnesses and signatures).
  • A certificate signed by you declaring therein that the contents of hard copy and soft copy are similar. 
  • Request letter along with a fee.

Step 5: Proof of Name Change

Both the Central and State Gazette take a lot of time to publish names. You should search for your name in your respective State Gazette website. For the Central Gazette,  follow these steps:

  • Go to the Central Gazette page and click on ‘Search Gazette’
  • Add the category ‘Weekly Gazette’ and press search.
  • Select ‘Part IV’ 
  • Add in the dates  
  • In the “keyword” section, add your new name.
  • Click on the results generated, and
  • Download the relevant file. This downloaded copy can be used as proof.

Learner’s License for LGBTQ+ Persons

A Learner’s License is a temporary license which is valid for 6 months, which legally allows you to practice driving on Indian roads, as long as you are accompanied by an adult who holds a valid Driving License1. You must be 18 years old before you apply for a DL, so you need to get your Learner’s License renewed or get a new one, as a Learner’s License is only valid for 6 months, depending on the regulations of your state, if you get your Learner’s License before you turn 18 years of age. 

 

New Learners License 

You need to get a Learner’s License before you can apply for a Driving License, unless you have a Driving Certificate by a State accredited driving school. To understand how to get a new Learner’s License, follow these steps: 

  • Name: If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State Gazette and a copy of other Identification proofs which recognize your new name in case the RTO/RTA authorities require it. 
  • Gender Details: While obtaining a new Learner’s License, you may have 3 options for gender which is “male”, “female” and “third gender”. Since Learner’s Licenses are regulated state wise, sometimes there may not be an option to choose transgender and in such situations, you should:
    • Contact the RTO/RTA and ask what can be done
    • Carry proof of identity such as an affidavit which would have details such as gender that you identify with, your new name, etc.
    • Take the help of lawyers, NGOs etc.

Renewing Learner’s Licence Details

You can renew your Learner’s License, which is valid for 6 months, or obtain a new one after the date of its expiry, depending on the rules of your state. This procedure varies across states, so you should check the rules specific to your state. Read here to understand how to renew your learners license.

  • Changing Your Name: If you want to update your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the renewal application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State gazette and a copy of other Identification Proof which recognize your new name.
  • Changing Gender Details: Since Learner’s Licenses are regulated state wise, sometimes there may not be an option to choose transgender and in such situations, you should:
    • Contact the RTO/RTA and ask what can be done
    • Carry proof of identity such as an affidavit which would have details such as gender that you identify with, your new name, etc.
    • Take the help of lawyers, NGOs etc.

The RTO/RTA officials may ask you for proof of gender identity or proof of change of name, but they cannot subject you to any form of harassment or gender verification on the spot. If you face any harassment or discrimination, you should complain to the Learner’s License authorities. If these authorities do not respond, you can take help from lawyers, NGOs, etc. to make the process easier and take action by filing a complaint with the police.

  1. Rule 3(b), The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989[]

Driving License for LGBTQ+ Persons

A Driving License (DL) is an official document, issued in the form of a card, by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) or Regional Transport Authority (RTA) of each State, under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which permits you to drive one or more types of vehicles, such as a motorcycle, car, etc. on a public road.

 

New Driving License 

You can register for a new Driving License after 30 days1 and within 180 days (6 months)2 of the issuance of the Learner’s License. To understand how to get a new Driving License, read here

  • Name: If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State Gazette and a copy of other Identification proofs which recognize your new name in case the RTO/RTA authorities require it. 
  • Gender Details: While obtaining a new Driving License, you may have 3 options for gender which is “male”, “female” and “third gender”. Since Driving Licenses are regulated state wise, sometimes there may not be an option to choose transgender and in such situations, you should:
    • Contact the RTO/RTA and ask what can be done
    • Carry proof of identity such as an affidavit which would have details such as gender that you identify with, your new name, etc.
    • Take the help of lawyers, NGOs etc.

 

Updating / Changing/ Renewing Driving Licence Details

You can update the demographic information of your Driving Licence and by doing so you will receive a newly issued card which will have updated information. Read here to understand in detail how to update Driving License details and read here to understand how to renew your driving license. 

  • Changing Your Name: If you want to update your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State gazette and a copy of other Identification Proof which recognize your new name.
  • Changing Gender Details: Since Driving Licenses are regulated state wise, sometimes there may not be an option to choose transgender and in such situations, you should:
    • Contact the RTO/RTA and ask what can be done
    • Carry proof of identity such as an affidavit which would have details such as gender that you identify with, your new name, etc.
    • Take the help of lawyers, NGOs etc.

The RTO/RTA officials may ask you for proof of gender identity or proof of change of name, but they cannot subject you to any form of harassment or gender verification on the spot. If you face any harassment or discrimination, you should complain to the Driving License authorities. If these authorities do not respond, you can take help from lawyers, NGOs, etc. to make the process easier and take action by filing a complaint with the police.

  1. Rule, 15 (1), Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.[]
  2. Section 14 (1), The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.[]

PAN Card for LGBTQ+ Persons

PAN (Permanent Account Number) is an identification proof mandatorily required to file taxes which is issued by the Income Tax Department. Details of your PAN Card are also asked by employers for salary transfers, TDS deductions, etc. and by banks while opening bank accounts. Initially, you will have to apply for a PAN Number. When your PAN Number is ready, you will be given a PAN Card with the details of your PAN Number on the card. Read here to understand about PAN and why you would require it.

 

Details for New PAN Number/Card

Applying for a PAN Number or Card is a cost – free process and you will have to give details such as your full name, gender, date of birth, residential address,, etc. After you apply for a PAN Number online or in person then you can apply for a PAN Card.

  • Name: If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the application forms (PAN Number Application Form (Form 49 A) and PAN Card Application Form). You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State gazette and a copy of other Identification Proof which recognize your new name in case the authorities at the PAN Centre require it. 
  • Gender Details: While obtaining a new PAN Number or card, you have 3 options for gender which is “male”, “female” and “transgender” (third gender). This option is available to you in all PAN centres across India and in the PAN Number Application Form and PAN Card Application Form.

 

Updating / Changing PAN Card Details

You can update the demographic information of your PAN Card and by doing so you will receive a newly issued PAN Card which will bear the same PAN Number but with updated information. Read here to understand in detail how to update PAN Card details. Remember that once PAN Number is assigned to you, it cannot be changed. Updation can only happen for PAN Card details.

  • Changing Your Name: If you want to update your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State gazette and a copy of other Identification Proofs which recognize your new name.
  • Changing Gender Details: If you want to update your gender, then you can mark from the 3 options given which is “male”, “female” and “transgender” (third gender). This option is available to you in the application form as well as in all PAN centres across India.

The officials at the PAN centre may ask you for proof of gender identity or proof of change of name, but they cannot subject you to any form of harassment or gender verification on the spot. If you face any harassment or discrimination, you should complain to the PAN authorities. If these authorities do not respond, you can take help from lawyers, NGOs, etc. to make the process easier and take action by filing a complaint with the police.

Aadhar Card for LGBTQ+ Persons

Aadhaar is a 12-digit identification number1, specific to each individual2, issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the residents of India after satisfying a verification process based on demographic information and biometric information.3 You will be assigned an Aadhaar number on a card with your personal details such as name, date of birth, address, etc., usually in English as well as the language of the State where you have your permanent address.

Given below are some of the important rights you have while applying for or updating an Aadhar card.

 

Details in New Aadhar Card

The process for obtaining a new Aadhaar Card requires going in person to an Aadhaar Enrolment Centre, and cannot be done online. It is a cost-free process. To understand how to get a new Aadhar card, read here

  • Name: If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the enrollment form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State Gazette and a copy of other ID Proofs which recognize your new name in case the authorities require it.
  • Gender Details: While obtaining a new Aadhar card, you have 3 options for gender which is “male”, “female” and “transgender” (third gender). This option is available to you in all enrollment centres across India and in the Aadhaar Enrolment Form

 

Updating / Changing Aadhar Details

You can update your demographic information or your biometric information such as name, gender, fingerprints, etc. by physically going to the nearest Aadhar enrollment centre and requesting for a ‘Aadhar Data Update/Correction Form’. To understand how to update Aadhar details, read here.  

  • Changing Your Name: If you want to update your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the enrollment form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State Gazette and a copy of other identification proofs which recognize your new name (if you have it).
  • Changing Gender Details: If you want to update your gender, then you can mark from the 3 options given which is “male”, “female” and “transgender”. This option is available to you in all enrollment centres across India and in every Aadhar Update Form

The officials at the enrollment centre may ask you for proof of gender identity or proof of change of name, but they cannot subject you to any form of harassment or gender verification on the spot. If you face any harassment or discrimination, you should file a complain with the Aadhar authorities. If these authorities do not respond, you can take help from lawyers, NGOs, etc. to make the process easier and take action by filing a complaint with the police.

  1. Section 2(a), Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.[]
  2. Section 4(1), Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.[]
  3.  Section 3(3), Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.[]

Passport for LGBTQ+ Persons

A Passport is an official document issued by the government that allows you to travel internationally.1 The Ministry of External Affairs issues Passports through the Central Passport Organisation (CPO) and you will be able to apply for a passport by approaching Passport Offices, Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) and Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK) in India. 

Given below are some of the important rights you have while applying for or updating a Passport:

 

New/Update and Re-issue of Passport

The procedure for a new Passport, updating a Passport and re-issuing a Passport in case you have lost or damaged it, is the same in India. With respect to Passport, reissue refers to renewal of a passport. These can be done either online or in-person. To understand how to get a new Passport, update the details of your Passport or re-issue your passport, read here

  • Name: If you have changed your name to reflect the gender you identify with, you can fill your new name in the passport application form. You should carry a copy of your changed name in the Central/State Gazette and a copy of other ID proofs which recognize your new name in case the passport authorities require it. 
  • Gender Details: While obtaining a new Voter ID card, you have 3 options for gender which is “male”, “female” and “transgender” (third gender). This option is available to you in all Passport offices  across India and in the passport application form.


The Passport officials may ask you for proof of gender identity or proof of change of name, but they cannot subject you to any form of harassment or gender verification on the spot. If you face any harassment or discrimination, you should complain to the Passport authorities. If these authorities do not respond, you can take help from lawyers, NGOs, etc. to make the process easier and take action by filing a complaint with the police.

  1. Section 3, Passports Act, 1967.[]