Several government hospitals in Tamil Nadu have been forcing transgender persons to undergo medical examinations, claiming it as a procedure to get their transgender identity cards.
According to The News Minute report, in at least one district government hospital, trans women who sought medical certificates to apply for their transgender identity cards were made to undergo a lower abdominal scan to 'ascertain' their gender. Many activists said the procedure is unnecessary and undoubtedly humiliating.
Speaking to the media, a 45-year-old trans woman said she had recently applied for the state government's transgender identity card. She was asked to come to the district medical college hospital in November 2020, where a team of doctors signed off on her identification statement.
Later, in January this year, she received a call from one of the local community leaders. They asked her to visit the medical college for a scan and claimed that the identity card would be issued after the scan report is attached to the application.
The woman was then made to undergo a lower abdomen ultrasound.
"We were scanned in the presence of so many strangers. All I am asking is where it is mentioned that a scan is mandatory? Nobody else in our community who got their identity cards earlier was asked to sit for a scan. This is the first time I heard this rule," she said.
According to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules 2020, a trans person seeking gender change certification and identity card is required to provide reports of medical interventions for gender confirmation, if they have undergone any procedures, along with other documents (affidavit, application form, psychologist's report etc.)
"The District Magistrate shall, on receipt of an application referred to in sub-rule (1) shall verify the genuineness of the said medical certificate, which shall not include any physical examination," the rules state.
Shalini Muthukumar, a trans woman, said that the scanning was done after the District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) who had mandated it.
"The DSWO told us that the Dean (of the college) wanted us to go through the scan as part of the procedure. There is no such procedure and nothing that specifies this is mentioned in any government order. It is merely for his curiosity," Muthukumar alleged.
She alleged human rights violation, given that the transgender identity card is an entry point to receive primary benefits, including a pension from the government.
"Many trans persons might not have undergone gender affirmation surgery due to multiple reasons. Many choose to remain in a male's clothes even if they identify as a trans woman. So basically, this card helps us assert our identity in case of issues like getting harassed and going to the police, apart from getting social benefits," she added.