Kochi: Hina Haneefa, a young transwoman who secured a historic verdict from the Kerala High Court this week for her community's right to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC), says she wants to be an inspiration for all, particularly those who are marginalised in society.
Haneefa was born in a Muslim family in Malappuram district as a brother of three sisters. She faced a lot of problems after declaring her identity while doing plus-two course.
Finally, Haneefa, still a practising Muslim but secular in views, left her family in 2017 to live her real life.
Three years later, she underwent a sex reassignment surgery at the age of 20.
Now 22, Haneefa is a first year BA (History) student in a college in Thiruvananthapuram under Kerala University.
She is living a happy life with her partner, a transman, in the state capital.
Hina had approached the college’s NCC wing to get enrolled as a transgender cadet. She had secured admission to the college as a transgender student under the recently introduced quota. Hina thought that she could also enter the NCC as a transgender, her actual identity. She was denied admission citing section 6 of the NCC Act. Hina then approached the 2 Kerala NCC battalion office. “They too cited sections in the Act to deny entry. But the officials said they had no objection if the rules were amended. As my petitions to the state Higher Education Department could not bring any change, I approached the Kerala High Court,” Hina said.
She said that the decision to not grant her admission was in violation of provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
Haneefa, however, said barring the legal hurdles she did not face any sort of discomfort either from the authorities of the NCC or from the authorities of the college.
"All of them were very supportive," she recalled.
In its historic order on March 15, the high court allowed the petition moved by Haneefa seeking her admission into the NCC.
"In view of the specific provisions in the 2019 Act by which a transgender person has a right to be recognised not only as a transgender but also a right to self-perceived gender identity, I am of the opinion that the petitioner who has opted for the female gender and has undergone sex reassignment surgeries for aiding her self-perception as a member of the said gender would definitely be entitled to enrollment in the NCC unit reckoning her as a transgender and further as a member of her self perceived gender, that is, the female gender," Justice Anu Sivaraman said in the order.
Taking note of the pleadings and the materials on record, the court said that Haneefa is entitled to enrollment in the NCC senior girls' division and the rejection of the request of the petitioner for such enrollment is completely unsustainable.
The court also gave directions to the respondents including the Central government to amend the enrollment criteria prescribed under Section 6 of the NCC Act, 1948 to include transgender community and to provide guidelines for enrolling transgender persons also in the NCC.
"Appropriate steps shall be taken by the competent among the respondents without delay, at any rate, within six months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment," said the order dated March 15.
In her plea, Haneefa had submitted that any provisions of the National Cadet Corps Act, 1948, or the absence of such provisions in so far as enrollment of transgenders are concerned, would have to be considered in the light of the authoritative pronouncement by the Apex Court and the provisions of the 2019 Act, since the enactment is clearly intended to do away with the social injustice meted out to persons like the petitioner and to ensure a life with human dignity to them.
Elated by the court order, Haneefa said, "I want to become an inspiration for all."
"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," she said.
Haneefa also spoke about the difficulties she had faced from her family but they could be convinced with the help of counsellors in Kozhikode.
"When I revealed my gender identity, I faced a lot of issues from my family. I was born as a brother to three sisters. They all were very upset. They were taken for counselling in Kozhikode. Now, they have snapped all the ties with me," she said.
She said when she left home in 2017, she had decided not to give up.
Before enrolling for the BA course, she had worked as a front office assistant at the Gender Park under the Social Justice Ministry in Thiruvananthapuram.
"The money I had earned from that job is utilised for my education. Besides, I am also getting a scholarship for doing my graduation," she said.
Haneefa said her ambition is to become an IPS officer.
"To achieve that goal, I will join for civil service coaching next year," she said.
"If I fail to get a chance in civil service, I will do hard work to get a posting in top rank in the state police," Haneefa said.