In a welcome step toward inclusivity and breaking down barriers, India’s civil aviation regulatory body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), issued medical guidelines on Wednesday that will allow transgender and non-binary people to fly in the country for the first time.
According to reports, the DGCA stated in its circular that transgender candidates who have completed their hormone therapy for transition or have undergone surgery more than five years ago will be able to fly the planes, provided they pass mental health screening tests. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has laid out a blueprint for mental health tests.
‘Those transgender applicants who have used hormone therapy or had gender reassignment surgery within the last five years will be screened for their mental health status,’ according to the circular. Individuals who completed their treatment within the last five years will be required to undergo not only psychological and psychiatric evaluations but also a detailed evaluation from their endocrinologist and surgeon regarding any surgery that may have occurred in the previous year.
Only if the candidate checks every box on the evaluation will they be declared fit and allowed to sit in the cockpits. Additionally, those on long-term hormone therapy will be admitted only if they can demonstrate that they have reached a stable dose. Meanwhile, those who have recently begun therapy or had surgery will be deemed medically ‘unfit’ and will have to wait three months before attempting again.
‘If the applicant is on hormone replacement therapy (as applicable), as with any medication, the applicant will be declared medically ‘unfit’ for at least three months upon the start of hormone therapy or any change in the drug or adjustment of its dose’. According to the DGCA, the medical guidelines apply to all types of pilot’s licences, including private pilot’s licences, student pilot licences, and commercial pilot licences.
However, transgender people are only permitted to fly as first officers. If a transgender pilot is the pilot-in-command, their co-pilot must have at least 250 hours of experience on the same aircraft. According to WION, India’s first transgender pilot, Adam Harry, 23, was previously declared unfit for flight by the DGCA. Adam’s efforts prompted the DGCA to make sweeping policy changes.