Inheritance Rights of Transgender Persons in India

Indian Law Review


This paper studies the inheritance rights of transgender persons in India. It examines the legal framework for inheritance and provides an overview of all court decisions between 1950 and 2021 that mention the term transgender (and its analogous terms, i.e., aravani, kinner, etc.). Though the Indian Constitution bars discrimination based on sex or gender, inheritance laws do not envisage transgender persons or a change in gender identity. They are based on a binary notion of gender. Individuals must choose between conforming to their assigned gender or not availing their rights. Moreover, successors are often difficult to identify as individuals may lack documentation, could not marry, or cannot prove adoption. While courts attempt to address these challenges, they leave it to their subjective satisfaction on when to secure the rights of transgender persons. These are important issues that must be addressed through changes in the law.