In some parts of the world, airlines have banded together to introduce additional gender options for transgender passengers who do not identify as male or female, but in India, the third gender has been officially recognized by India since 2014, after the NALSA ruling of the Supreme Court. However, airline check-in in India only has 2 genders.
According to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 Airlines in India does not allow discrimination. But until recently, no airline reservation form included the gender-neutral title ‘Mx’, which many members of the LGBTQ community prefer to use. Because of this, passengers using ‘Mx’ were forced to choose an inaccurate title for themselves, be it ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Mrs.’, to reserve a ticket.
In a Tweet Dr. Aqsa Shaikh a transgender doctor wrote “Dear @airvistara While registering today I realised that while you provide Mx as a Title choice, only Male and Female are choices available to choose. This leaves Transgender and Non-Binary people with limited choices. Can you make it Gender Inclusive for everyone?” tweeted.
Indian airports continue to view gender as binary, even though Indian law does not. There are no gender-neutral toilets in Indian airports and security screening procedures also separate passengers as male and female.
Another user tweeted “Similar issue with @makemytrip While entering personal details regarding travellers only 2 gender choices are made available”
The Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that recognized transgender people as the third gender marked a major victory for the community facing social stigma and neglect in society. The sentence dawned with a new hope that transgender people would guarantee the dignity of life that society grants to their counterparts, men and women.
In June this year, two airlines, Vistara and AirAsia India decided to add gender-neutral titles to their booking forms, but till now there is no update.
The NALSA sentence is a milestone in the fight of transgender people for equality and respect. The SC said that transgender people should be recognized as a third gender and affirmed the equal applicability of fundamental rights to them.
He asked the government to apply the report of the Committee of Experts, which was constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the issue of the rights of transgender people and provide reservations for them in educational institutions and public employment. It tries to incorporate transgender people and prevent them from experiencing an identity crisis. However, he stopped short of scrapping section 377 of the IPC.
Many airlines around the world have also switched to gender-neutral greetings. For example, instead of calling the ladies and gentlemen of the passengers, they now refer to them as ‘guests’ or greet them with phrases such as “Good morning everyone”, “Good morning here on board” or “Attention all the passengers”.
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