Transgender persons urge Karnataka government to give them free higher education

The TN government's announcement raised questions by the community in Karnataka who urged the government time and again to introduce policies that will help them live their lives in dignity.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. (Express Illustration)

BENGALURU: The Tamil Nadu government during its recently released budget allocation announced that it will cover all educational expenses of transgender students who are willing to enrol into higher education courses.

The announcement raised questions by the community in Karnataka who urged the government time and again to introduce policies that will help them live their lives in dignity.

A spokesperson from the community also argued that Karnataka should form a ‘Transgender Welfare Board,' considering that it is the need of the hour for their holistic welfare and if neighbouring states can do it Karnataka can form on too. The TN government will allocate Rs 2 crore for the Welfare Board and cover educational expenses such as tuition and hostel fees for transgender individuals.

Sana Shree, founder of Swatantra, a trans rights organisation said that on a regular basis she meets many individuals who want to pursue their higher education and pick up a mainstream job. However, through her foundation, she can help only a handful of people.

“The one per cent reservation in Bangalore University (BU) is not enough, the government should formally help the community enter the mainstream, like how Tamil Nadu has taken full responsibility for the transgenders. Reservation in the educational sector should be seen as a fundamental right for the third gender,” Sana advocated. She added that she would also like to pursue her higher education but there are fewer options to do so.

Besides, members of the community are displeased with the government hiking the Maitri pension by a mere Rs 400, from Rs 800. “We have to go to colleges and justify our identities to enrol into courses. With such a small amount, how can we meet all our expenses,” a transgender added.

Akkai Padmashali, a transgender rights activist said that this year’s Karnataka budget had almost nothing for the community. “The budget was not very favourable, and our demands have been constantly ignored. Despite the cabinet approval of the Transgender Welfare Board in 2017 during the Siddaramaiah government, this year we were expecting some new resolutions.”

Another trans activist and treasurer of Ondede NGO said they have recommended the government to introduce chapters on transgenders in school education and offer free education. “We recently met Primary Education Minister Madhu Bangarappa with a list of recommendations for education inclusion of the community. He assured us that necessary steps will be taken,” said Rakshitha, treasurer of the NGO.

She added that though some private universities in the state have come forward, to provide scholarships for transgenders, the number is less and needs government intervention.

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