The Madras High Court has ruled that the term, "bride", as stated in the Hindu Marriage Act would not just be restricted to individuals who were born as women. It would also extend to transsexuals or anyone who identifies as a woman.
This is a path-breaking judgement because, for the first time, the law differentiates between gender and sex and goes beyond the spectrum of heteronormative labels. Justice GR Swaminathan quoted from the epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana and stated that the term "bride" cannot be constricted to specific definitions. He also stated that the term is a dynamic one, and thus, it should also include transwomen.
According to reports, this move comes after a couple, Arun and Sreeja moved the Court. Sreeja, a transwoman, had been denied "female" status when she wanted to issue a marriage certificate after marrying beau, Arun. The couple had initially gotten married in a temple, but a marriage registrar had refused to issue an official certificate. Justce Swaminathan also directed that a certificate be issued to the couple.
In another much-appreciated move, Justice Swaminathan has also issued an order banning sex reassignment surgeries on inter-sex children. In India, transgenders are usually considered to be a marginalized group and the birth of inter-sex children are deemed embarrassing or a matter of shame. For years now, inter-sex children have been forced to the margins and compelled to live away from their families.
In an attempt to curb this, Justice Swaminathan issued the ban on sex reassignment surgeries. This ban essentially emphasizes that inter-sex infants are entitled to stay with their families. He also believes that such a move will help eradicate the stigma that is commonly associated with inter-sex or transgender individuals.