In the absence of a separate category for transgender persons in sports events, they must be allowed to participate in the gender category of their choice, the Kerala High Court said on Friday.

Justice VG Arun made the observation on a plea filed by a transgender person who transitioned into a woman and wanted to compete in a district-level Judo competition. The event organisers, however, told her that transgender persons are not allowed to participate in the event.

At Friday’s hearing, the judge said that all transgender persons have an equal right to participate in competitions.

“Here, in the absence of any category for participating transgender persons, the petitioner is seeking to participate in her identity as woman,” the court order stated. “If the organisers have not made arrangements for participating transgenders, then the petitioner will have to be permitted to participate in her chosen category.”

The court asked the event organisers to allow the petitioner to participate in the competition provisionally, subject to the final outcome of the plea. The court also issued a notice to the state government and the Kerala State Sports Council seeking their response on the matter.

In her petition, the transgender person had said that she has been participating in sports events all her life even after undergoing a sex reassignment surgery.

Advocate Dhanuja MS, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the petitioner identifies as a woman and has on hormone therapy for about five years after undergoing the sex reassignment surgery.