"By and large, they have remained untouchables in the society and normally, they are not even admitted in schools and other educational institutions. Much remains to be done for them," a bench comprising justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said.
    
The remarks came during the hearing of a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), a statutory body, seeking to declare transgenders as citizens with a third category of gender with equal protection and rights like others falling under the category of either male or female.
    
NALSA is constituted to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society and organise Lok Adalats for amicable resolution of disputes.
    
"Judicial and Constitutional recognition of transgenders will enable the state to do the needful. The govenrnment has also set up a task force and it would strengthen their hands and propel them to act further," senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for NALSA, said.
    
"Every human being has sexual characteristics and the transgenders cannot be discriminated against on the ground of sex," he said, adding they would fall within the expression "socially and educationally backward class of citizens" discussed in Article 15 (4) of the Constitution.
    
He also cited the Mandal judgement and said the benefits of reservation be extened to transgenders. The lawyer also referred to the legal position in the United Kingdom, European Union, USA and South Africa on the issue.
    
Earlier, the apex court had asked the Centre and state governments to apprise it of their stands on the PIL seeking to declare transgenders as citizens with a third category of
gender with equal protection and rights like others.

 (Agencies)

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