Kathmandu (Pahichan) October 6 – Bhumika Shrestha has become the first transgender woman to travel abroad by identifying herself as ‘other’ in the gender category.
Shrestha traveled to New Delhi on Tuesday with her new passport. Shrestha, who was born with male organs, identifies as female. This is the first time a person has traveled by identifying themselves as ‘other’ The TIA has a system now where it will read ‘other’ as a gender category.
Shrestha went to Delhi to apply for a visa to Taiwan, where she will be participating in an international conference on gay rights. In August, Nepal placed itself among a handful of countries in the world to allow ‘other’ as a gender category in passports. It was hailed as a milestone in the LGBTI movement.
Manoj Shahi, who identifies self as Monica Shahi, became first person to bear a passport under the ‘other’ category. According to Blue Diamond Society three others received such passports.
Once the Department of Passport recognised ‘Others’ as a category, the system at Tribhuvan International Airport had to be adjusted in order to the category. TIA officials, quoted in a press statement by Blue Diamond Society, said it was ready.
Australia and New Zealand are the only other countries that issue passports with ‘x’ as an option for people who do not identify as male or female.
Earlier this year, Nepalhad amended the Passport Regulations, allowing‘other’ as one of the gender categories.
Nepal is considered a progressive country in South Asia in terms of LGBTI rights. Nepal added a third gender category to census and the citizenship card in 2011. Activists then started negotiating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the provision to be extended to passport.
The new Constitution also prohibits discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. Sunil Babu Pant became the first gay parliamentarian in Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly, in 2008. The apex court recognized live-in relationships for a lesbian couple, in 2012.