As DU goes to vote for Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) election on Friday, there is a sense of excitement in the air. However, a section of the varsity feels let down. The transgender students, along with LGBTQ, feel that none of the parties or their manifestoes have cared to address their problems.
While the manifesto of Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) focuses on issues such as lack of hostels and other facilities, that of National Students Union of India (NSUI) pays attention to women issues. Northeastern students have been promised a dedicated panel. However, even the basic needs of transgenders, such as a separate washroom, and sensitisation programs, have found no place on any party’s agenda.
“Elections will be held on September 9, but during the entire election campaign we figure nowhere. Are we not a part of the University? We face criticism in the classroom and fellow students make fun of us. Should these parties not come out in our support as well?” says Viraj Shokeen, a student of Hansraj College and member of the LGBTQ community. “The first thing we need are separate washrooms. Also, a grievance community should be set up for us, where we can go and discuss our issues without any hesitation,” adds Shokeen.
The sentiment is shared not just by the students but by some professors as well. Aakriti Kohli, a Delhi University professor who made a documentary on the LGBTQ, titled ‘In the mood for Love’, in 2015, says, “A lot of students from the LGBTQ and non-normative sexuality face ridicule right within the classrooms as well as outside of it. The visible absence of any mention of transgender issues also in the manifesto is disappointing. These groups need to move away from majoritarian issues and become more inclusive in addressing concerns of the discrimination faced by students who do not wish to conform to the normative.”
Those DU students who wanted to extend support to their fellows from the community, also feel dejected after the representatives have ignored the community. Many DU students had started support groups to reach out to the LGBTQ students. “DU is one of the popular universities of India and the contesting parties are the student wings of leading parties of our country. If we want to bring a change in the mindset of people, student elections are the ground for them. But unfortunately in such a huge campaign, the LGBTQ community was mentioned nowhere,” says a student of St. Stephen’s College who wished not to be named.
“The University of Delhi had recognised the ‘other’ gender by offering a choice to tick any of the ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘other’, gender category on the admission forms. However, it seems our student leaders are yet to acknowledge their presence,” says Vansh Chauhan, who supports the community.