Even though the Supreme Court of India has given a third gender status to the transgender, in Kolkata, US Embassy has kept on hold a visitors’ visa of a transgender from Chhattisgarh, Amruta Alpesh Soni who is a nodal officer in the health department of state and her Indian passport states her gender as T i.e. transgender. To attend the 14th Annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, the US visitor’s visa had applied by Soni. This conference was being held next month in Pennsylvania Convention Centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These transgenders in India are known as Hijras and the court gave the permission and declared as third gender a month back. The recent judgment of Supreme Court was a landmark decision given in April, where it allowed transgenders to identify themselves and recognised them as part of the Indian society.
Soni had got her new Indian passport in April 2015 when Supreme Court had decided on it about her sex and mentioned it as T in the passport but she faced problems while filing online US Visa Application form as it did not have an option for transgenders and so she filed the gender as female. While Soni was interviewed, visa officer informed that they did not know that the option T was in Indian Passport but they had considered only M (male) and F (Female) options. Soni told that US Consulate officers did not accept Indian Government’s decision regarding adding T and accepting the third gender in Indian passports was a sheer discrimination against them. Since Soni was invited to attend the Trans Health Conference at Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, thus she had applied for a Visa and she also informed that she wanted to speak on transgenders who were affected by HIV living in India. Soni said that it was a very good opportunity and that she did not wanted to miss it out because of her gender. Indian online visa applications have added option T in it along with M and F to select the gender identification of the person apply for visas. Soni’s Visa application was neither accepted nor rejected by the embassy but it was put on hold as of now.
by Sushma Javare.