When Hina Haneefa, a first-year BA (History) student of University College, Thiruvananthapuram, had approached the college’s National Cadet Corps (NCC) unit to get enrolled as a transgender cadet, she was denied admission by the NCC Associate Officer who cited NCC Act 1948 and its classification of cadets as male and female.
It was then when she moved the Kerala High Court where she challenged Section 6 of the NCC Act 1948 that breaks down the enrollment process of people in two genders, i.e, male and female. She made two appeals – one to the NCC unit in the college and second to the Commanding Officer of NCC Thiruvananthapuram – in October 2019.
In a landmark judgment on March 15, the Kerala High Court gave Haneefa relief to join the NCC.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Anu Sivaraman according to which a transgender person can be enrolled in the NCC while keeping with her self-perceived identity.
The court not only allowed her to apply under the female category but also asked the centre to allow entry of transgender persons in NCC within six months.
The judge also proceeded to ask the centre to bring improvements in the application process of NCC so that more transgender persons can achieve what Haneefa did.
Haneefa, in her petition, had mentioned that being a cadet in NCC is about human dignity for her and the transgender persons who wish for that. “I want to become an inspiration for all.” she told media outlets.
She added, “Not only for my community but also for those people who are sidelined or marginalised due to various reasons. I want to prove that they can lead a dignified life in this society. My name should be recorded in history.”
Born as a male child in Malappuram district of Kerala, Haneefa had previously joined the male cadet wing of the NCC and even earned an 'A certificate' back in grade 10. She moved out of her orthodox Muslim family at 19 years of age.
After leaving home in 2017, she started working as an office assistant at Gender Park under Kerala’s social justice ministry in Thiruvananthapuram. This helped her pay for her education.
Having collected over a lakh rupees in two years’ time, Haneefa decided to go through a sex reassignment surgery at 20, following which she began college.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)