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Success & Struggle of Adam Harry to become first transgender pilot in India

transgender pilot India; Taking a welcome step toward inclusion and breaking the glass ceiling, India's civil aviation regulator,

By Ground report
New Update
Success & Struggle of Adam Harry to become first transgender pilot in India

Taking a welcome step toward inclusion and breaking the glass ceiling, India's civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), issued medical guidelines for the first time on Wednesday that will allow transgender people and non-binary fly planes in the country. The move comes just weeks after the DGCA invited 23-year-old trans pilot trainee Adam Harry to reapply for a medical evaluation for his commercial pilot's licence, two years after he was declared "unfit".

The DGCA in its circular stated that transgender candidates, who have completed their transition hormone therapy or have undergone surgery more than five years ago, will be able to fly the planes, after passing mental health screening tests.

Adam Harry is India’s first transgender pilot, His dreams crashed, when the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation sector watchdog, failed to give him a medical clearance certificate.

Adam Harry was earlier declared unfit for flying an aircraft by the DGCA. It was Adam's efforts that led DGCA to bring about a sea of changes in its policy.

Speaking to The Times of India, Adam Harry, the transgender aspiring pilot whose efforts resulted in this change called this circular a historic step, saying: "This is a historic occasion. There was no separate circular in India for the medical assessment of transgender people. candidates interested in a career as a commercial pilot.

According to Hary, the new guidelines have references that being transgender is not a disorder. The restrictions also appeared to be comparatively minor for those who continued hormone therapy for more than five years, she said.

In January 2020, Mr. Harry applied for a medical so that he can convert his private pilot license from an aviation academy in South Africa to India so that he can begin his pilot training in the country.

Referring to the new guidelines, Mr Harry said he was "very happy".

“It is not just my victory, but that of the entire trans community who is tortured and harassed for their gender despite being as capable as other genders,” he told the Press Trust of India.

Under new guidelines announced Wednesday, applicants will be required to submit detailed medical reports.

“The applicant will need to submit a detailed report from the qualifying endocrinologist containing the details (duration, dosage, frequency of dosage, changes made, hormone test reports, side effects, etc.) of the hormone therapy the applicant has been taking,” the Press Trust of India reported.

The guidelines add that the fitness of a transgender applicant will be assessed on a case-by-case basis following the principles of assessing her functional capacity and risk of disability.

Transgender applicants, who have been taking hormone therapy or have undergone gender reassignment surgery in the past five years, will be screened for mental health status.

Harry, who recently revalidated his flight license from South Africa, where he had studied, was also medically cleared there without any hurdles. He said that he has a class 2 medical exam.
After his studies abroad, he attended classes on the ground at the Rajiv Gandhi Academy of Aviation Technology on a scholarship from the state government.

He said that the discriminatory attitude of a sector of society towards trans people forced him to ask the government, which had awarded him a scholarship, to withdraw the money given to the aviation academy.

The process to transfer that fee to an institute in South Africa is now underway, he said. "I applied to the state department of social justice to give me the same amount of scholarship to study in South Africa. The proposal is now under consideration by the Department of Finance here. I hope the scholarship will be cleared soon," he said.

If the amount is cleared, he plans to join the academy in South Africa and take a medical fitness test there. He would also like to pass a fitness test under the Federal Aviation Administration, the US aviation regulator, before returning to India and undergoing DGCA-mandated medical tests here. "Medical tests are too expensive in India and I cannot afford them at the moment because I have no money. I am doing various menial jobs to make ends meet. But in South Africa, such tests are included in our course fee. studies. So I think if I come back after doing two medicals there, it will be an added bonus," Harry said.

In 2019, the Kerala government sanctioned Rs 23.7 lakh to help Harry undertake a three-year course at the Rajiv Gandhi Academy of Aviation Technology in Thiruvananthapuram and obtain a commercial pilot's license.

He obtained a private license in 2017 after undergoing training in Johannesburg, South Africa, becoming India's first transgender pilot. However, after his family found out about his identity, they disowned him.

Harry needed a business license to become an airline pilot and turned to the Kerala government for help.

“I am very grateful to the government for the helping hand. Otherwise, my dream will never have come true… I plan to join the Rajiv Gandhi Academy of Aviation Technology RPT Technology for three years of study and training to obtain a commercial pilot license,” Harry told PTI in 2019.

“As I got older, the image in my head became clearer,” he says, adding, “But I always had my gender staring me in the face whenever I tried to work up the courage to pursue it. I was always a man inside and the certainty of that always kept me apart from the other boys. People used to look at me differently and while I was in school, I faced bullying from both teachers and students.”

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