Not allowed at TISS Mumbai event over 'inappropriate' dress, says queer student leader
In a social media post, TISS students' union president Pratik Permey said, "I really felt violated and humiliated. My right and my freedom were curbed. I was not allowed to represent."
Published: 29th March 2023 03:33 PM | Last Updated: 29th March 2023 03:55 PM | A+A A-
MUMBAI: The students' union president of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) who has chosen to be identified as queer has claimed discrimination at an event on the campus over "inappropriate" dress.
A TISS professor here said the institute is known for its inclusive nature and they will look into the matter if there has been any incidence where any student was made to feel discriminated against.
The alleged incident took place on March 25, when a speech was organised on 'Ambedkar Nationalism, And the Need for Contemporary Collaborative Activitism.'
In a social media post, TISS students' union president Pratik Permey said, "I was invited to the Ambedkar Memorial Lecture as a representative of the students' union, to welcome the guests and do some formalities. When I reached the venue, around 6 pm I showed up in the usual dress. It was a blouse and a skirt." Around 7, Permey claimed, a professor and a few members of the organising committee said "for an event like this, you cannot wear something like that".
Even if the institute wants to curb what students wear, it is not fine, said Permey. "Apart from being an indigenous and tribal person, I am also a queer. I also felt that my queerness was not allowed to represent or rather I was not allowed to because of my queerness," Permey said.
The student union leader who is from a village in Assam added, "I really felt violated and humiliated. My right and my freedom were curbed. I was not allowed to represent."
Calling themselves "the first genderfluid, tribal, queer Student Union President of TISS Mumbai from the northeast", Pratik said in an Instagram post that "the village they come from has a lot of tribal people and they were comfortable with very minimal clothes."
Jai Bhim to all the Ambedkarites,— Pratik Permey (@pratikpermey) March 28, 2023
The incident was quite shocking to me and the fact that it happened in our institution was all the more surprising. It was actually a professor who made the comment. I would not blame the whole of TISS. https://t.co/w2eVTcrToc
The entire post read: "Regarding violation of my fundamental right of freedom of expression at the 19th Ambedkar Memorial Lecture. I am deeply disturbed by the fact that this has happened in our institute. I further request everyone in this institute and others to kindly take a moment and understand the narrative of queer people, the underrepresented people. What I wear might make you feel disturbed or triggered but it is my right to wear what I want to, how I want to express myself and you have no right to impose your thoughts on me. As a person from the northeast, we have a different cultural context. People are comfortable in wearing a variety of clothes from revealing to not so revealing. As a tribal person, conservation of body parts was never a concern. The village that I came from has a lot of tribal people and they were comfortable with very minimal clothes. I do not abide by the Brahminical Patriarchal understanding of curbing the agency of a person. Forcing them to follow the same set of ideas revolving around purity and pollution. What happened with me was wrong! And I want people to really stop speculating and controlling how my body will look in public and private spaces. It is my identity and I will express myself how I want to. Jai Bhim to all the Ambedkarites."
A TISS professor said theirs is perhaps the only institution in the country with a gender-neutral hostel.
TISS is known for its inclusive nature with all supportive mechanisms in place for students of all genders and identities to co-exist, said the professor.
"If there has been any incidence where any student feels discriminated, we will look into the matter. All students are assured of an inclusive atmosphere on the campus," said the professor.
(With online desk inputs)