dna impact: Maharashtra govt drops derogatory 'Shemale' category from driving licences after LGBT community's criticism

Sunday, 19 January 2014 - 7:37am IST | Agency: DNA

Hours after dna pointed out the use of an objectionable term to describe transsexuals in the online form for driving licence, the transport department on Saturday swung into action and rectified the error. Activists representing the LGBT community have lauded the department’s swift move.

Earlier, the transport department’s attempt to simply the process to obtain a driving licence had drawn sharp criticism after activists noticed that the Andheri regional transport office had included transgenders under the title ‘Shemale’ on its web-based form.

Shemale is defined by Wikipedia as “a derogatory term used (but not exclusively) in sex work to describe trans women with male genitalia and augmented female breasts from breast augmentation and / or use of hormones. The term she-male is offensive primarily because it mocks the gender identity and expressions of trans individuals and it places emphasis on the biological sex of the person over the gender. … The phrase is commonly found on porn sites.”

“We never meant to demean anyone. As it was brought to our notice, we immediately got it changed. We do not want to insult anyone,” said S B Sahasrabudhhe, additional transport commissioner.

Welcoming and appreciating the swiftness of action that has been taken by the transport authorities, Harish Iyer, an activist for LGBT rights said, “It is okay to do a mistake. What we would like to say is that whichever community the authorities want to involve or include, they should consult them and take them into confidence in order to avoid any kind of error or blunder.”

The transport commissioner’s office is probably only the third government department to recognise a third category after the election commission and the passport office. But these two departments have used the label ‘transgender’ and ‘others’.

According to LGBT activists, the gender neutral terms that are being used internationally are ze, zir, sie and hir.

On the right track with ‘Others’
Transport department’s effort to include transsexuals in its online form draws criticism over use of title ‘Shemale’. Activists say it is derogatory and used in porn industry

Hours after dna pointed out the use of the objectionable term, officials move swiftly to rectify the error

Shemale is replaced with ‘Others’, which is being used by the election commission and passport authorities


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