A court in India has stepped in after the family of an Indian-American transgender teenager tried to marry him off.
The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered police to provide protection for 19-year-old Shivy and escort him to the airport to return to California where he has lived since the age of three.
Shivy’s parents were also ordered to return his passport and identity documents.
Justice Siddharth Mridul said Shivy should “travel unaccompanied and will not be subjected to any harassment by the extended family upon arrival in the US”.
Shivy said his parents tried to “fix” him, taking him to Agra once they found out he had a girlfriend.
His mother has now returned his documents, and agreed to pay his university tuition and air fare back to the US.
The Delhi High Court went on to say that the treatment of Shivy by his parents amounted to “bigotry”.
Last year, in a landmark ruling, India’s Supreme Court ruled that trans people should be recognised as a third gender.
According to reports, Shivy – a US green card holder born a girl but who has lived as a boy for a number of years – was brought to India earlier this year on the pretext of meeting his “ill” grandmother.
Once in India, his parents attempted to enrol him in a college to “act like a proper girl”.
Shivy eventually escaped the family home in Agra with the help of a group of LGBTQ activists and sought protection from the High Court.
In his judgment, justice Mridul stated: “Gender identity and sexual orientation are fundamental to the right of self-determination, dignity and freedom. These freedoms lie at the heart of personal autonomy and freedom of individuals. A transgender’s sense or experience of gender is integral to their core personality and sense of being. Insofar as I understand the law, everyone has a fundamental right to be recognised in their chosen gender”.
Shivy told the BBC: “This court order was possible because LGBTQI activists came forward, because there is so much representation and voices were raised”.
He added that his relationship with his parents was “completely broken” but hoped that he would be able to continue to remain close to his “socially aware” and “very supportive” 11-year-old brothers.