Transgendered in Sri Lanka: Gender Identity and the Law in Sri Lanka and India

23 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014

See all articles by Urmila Pullat

Urmila Pullat

University of Oxford; Grassrooted Trust and DAST

Date Written: December 2012


What does it mean to be a transgender person? And how can this knowledge best be incorporated into the law such that there is recognition, legal validation and protection of this much misunderstood and maligned community? Can this be achieved by assigning a third gender to all transgender people or can it be achieved through existing gender identities of male and female? This paper draws from a pilot study involving 12 semi-structured interviews {11 Male to female (MtF) and 1 Female to Male (FtM)} and 3 Focus Group discussions of transgender people, conducted in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The research examines what it means to be transgender in Sri Lanka (as there is no real understanding of the same in the island country) and whether or not this transgender identity translates into a need for a third gender in the country, like its South Asian neighbours, India and Nepal. It will look at issues of Gender identity and the Law and how the same can be incorporated into the Law in Sri Lanka as well as in India (due to inherent similarities in the laws of both these countries).

From a preliminary understanding of what it means to be a transgender person, this paper attempts to give a viable legal standpoint to one’s gender identity both for Sri Lanka and India. With the background of the new law in Argentina, and constitutional guarantees, I would like to examine possible changes to the existing legal regimes in the two countries vis-à-vis gender identity.

Keywords: transgender persons, gender identity, Sri Lanka, Gender identity and the Law, India

Suggested Citation

Pullat, Urmila, Transgendered in Sri Lanka: Gender Identity and the Law in Sri Lanka and India (December 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Urmila Pullat (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

No Address Available
United Kingdom

Grassrooted Trust and DAST ( email )

51 C Huludagoda Road
Sri Lanka

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