KOCHI: The Centre has intervened in a row over denial of flying permission for India’s first transgender pilot, resulting in the the aviation regulator now allowing the Kerala native to “obtain a fresh medical assessment”.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sent Adam Harry an email on Wednesday asking for the “medical procedures” to be completed. The move came two days after a July 11 letter from the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment to the aviation regulator, calling its earlier denial of a private pilot licence to Harry “discriminatory”.
In 2019, Harry had applied for the medical clearance of DGCA so that his PPL, secured from South Africa, could be converted under DGCA standards to enable him to join the course at Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology in Thiruvananthapuram. However, DGCA blocked his request on grounds of gender dysphoria (the dissonance between his or her biological sex and gender identity) and hormone replacement therapy.
Harry, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, said he will comply with DGCA’s requirements as per the mail sent on Wednesday, but continue his fight till the regulator provides specific guidelines for licensing and separate medical standards for transgender candidates who want to become pilots.
“I received an email from DGCA and it looked somewhat positive. I will do as per the directions but my fight will not stop even if my issues are resolved. This is because the discriminatory system will affect all transpersons,” Harry said.
“There should be transgender-friendly policies in the flying profession. Why should anyone give up his/her gender identity to fulfil their professional dreams? I want the DGCA to avoid discrimination in the cockpit,” Harry added.
A planned petition in the Kerala high court on the matter will go ahead, Harry asserted, adding the present “transphobic system should completely change benefiting transpersons like me who aspire to fly”.
The DGCA has asked Harry to apply for a name change as he had used his now-defunct name (Aisha TS) for DGCA registration in 2019 prior to his complete gender transition to Adam Harry in 2020 and register on the e-Governance of Civil Aviation portal as “transgender”.
Harry joined a course at Skyhawk Aviation in South Africa in 2016 for a commercial pilot licence but had to discontinue as his parents stopped financial support after he revealed his gender identity on social media. On his return to Kerala in 2017 completing just PPL, he was locked up in a room for a year by his family and they forced him to do conversion therapy to “cure” his gender orientation. He later escaped and since then has survived doing odd jobs.

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