It's a long road ahead for 'other' gender at DU, varsities

  • Shradha Chettri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2015 19:23 IST

Universities across the country have opened their doors to members of the transgender community but apart from including the “Other” category in the admission forms, there has not been much thought in taking the policy forward.

People from the community say major challenges lie ahead in giving them a campus that is neutral to their sexual identity.

The need of the hour is the upgradation of infrastructure such as of unisex washrooms, steps to sensitise the teaching, non-teaching staff and students on campus which should begin right from day one of the new academic session.

“DU had announced that nine people were admitted to post graduate courses from the transgender community, but we have not met them to date. The administration, for a very long time, has silenced the issue. Much more needs to be done than just adding the “Other” category,” said Rafiul Alom Rahman, a member of the DU queer collective.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), in October, had sent a letter to all the universities in the country to take measures to make the community mainstream. Most universities in the city seem to be stuck on mentioning the category in the forms with no specific policy in sight.

“We at the Cluster Innovation Centre are working on a project, studying problems that the community faces. If the university wants, we can send our students as counsellors to help members of the community who come for admissions,” said Madan Mohan Chaturvedi, director, DU CIC.

Other universities such as Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University introduced the “Other” category this year, but are still looking at how they can bring in the policy of inclusion.

Universities and colleges in the country can learn from those outside who have incorporated changes in their infrastructure to ensure students from the community face no problems. At Harvard, issues like safety, accommodation, toilets and peer counselling have been taken care of.

The Mount Holyoke Women’s College website says, “traditional binaries around who count as a man or woman are being challenged by those whose gender identity does not conform to their biology.”

The college has made it clear that any biologically born female who identifies herself as a woman, man or ‘other’, or a biologically born man identifying himself as a woman can apply for admission.

Activists feel that in the initial phase, the lacuna in the already existing policy needs to be corrected, starting with the anti-ragging clause. “Students are made to submit an affidavit about anti-ragging but nowhere does it mention bullying faced due to sexual identity,” said Rahman.

The removal of Ordinance 15 D and bringing in the Harassment of Women at Workplace Act defeats their rights. “Ordinance 15 D mentions the victim as a person going by that, anybody could be at the receiving end. However, the act is a very hetero-sexist definition and narrows their ambit of justice,” said an LGBTQ activist from Ambedkar University.

Read:Manabi Bandophadhyay: India's first transgender college principal takes charge in West Bengal

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