THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Daya Gayathri joined Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, for BA in Economics during the 2013-14 academic year as a male student. Though she completed the course, she had a few back papers, which she feels was caused by her volatile emotional state after being constantly harassed for issues linked to her gender identity.
This year Daya underwent a sexual reassignment surgery. Though she applied for BA Malayalam, she didn’t get an admission.Her case is not an isolated one. Transgenders often have to discontinue their studies or join other academic institutions after an academic year, as they find it hard to face harassment from their college mates.Left with no option, Daya along with two others, approached the Social Justice Department. This led to the revolutionary decision to reserve two seats for transgenders for higher studies. With the new order, Daya can now heave a sigh of relief.
In a move termed as a progressive step towards inclusive education, the government has allocated two seats for transgenders. The Higher Education Department issued the order on July 3 sanctioning two seats for transgenders in university courses.
“People like us always had to fight discrimination from families and society. We also face emotional conflicts. Regardless of the challenges we face, we too have big plans for the future. Now I’ll get a chance to proudly continue my studies along with those students who earlier made fun of my gender. I see it as a sweet revenge,” said Daya, who hopes to return to the college this year as a proud transwoman scholar.
Theertha, who was a BTech student in Ernakulam and Praveen Nath who was pursuing BA English in Palakkad had to drop out from college due to gender issues. They now wish to join for
BA English Literature at Maharaja’s College, along with Daya.
The three of them had together approached the state government when they failed to get admission at the college. “This order puts Kerala miles ahead of other states in the field of transgender rights. The initiatives are taken by the government to end the social stigma towards the sexual minority group and ensure non-discriminatory treatment. Now, people like us can pursue higher education with our own identity as a transgender,” said Syama, treasurer with Oasis Cultural Society, a forum for transgenders.
“I am pursuing higher secondary equivalence course under Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority’s ‘Samanwaya’ Scheme and would like to do Sociology after completion of the course.
This government decision has come as a blessing to us who want to pursue higher education but was pushed back by the society due to various discriminations,” said Sreelachu who had to drop out from school in 1995.If age does not stop me from achieving my dreams, I am interested in doing BA Malayalam Literature after my higher secondary course, says Asma, who is currently doing her Class Xth equivalence course under Samanwaya.
“It is a good move but it took time to get implemented, as some of us could have achieved our dreams earlier if there was such a decision. Still, I doubt on the acceptance from the society as change has to come from the basic level. We need to look at individuals’ talent rather than their gender to come forward in any field,” said transwoman Zara Sheikha, Senior HR Associate at UST Global.