Soon, colleges across Bengal will have separate toilets for transgender students.
As a step towards addressing the concerns of the transgender community and helping them earn social acceptance, the coordination committee for West Bengal Transgender Development Board, formed by the Mamata government, had recommended setting up separate toilets or modifying existing ones for these students at all the state-run and the state-aided colleges. Following the recommendation, the state higher education department, in a letter dated June 30, directed all college principals to build separate toilets for the third gender.
“I’ve always had trouble using the girls’ toilet. This is a big step. When I took admission, there was no option for the ‘third gender’. Hence, I had to enrol as a female. However, I plan to enrol for my Masters course as the third gender,” Shalini Ganguly (name changed on request), a student of Bijoy Krishna Girls’ College, said.
Echoing the views, Pratham Basu (name changed), a student of Narasinha Dutt College, said, “I had a problem using the boy’s washroom. Sensing our plight, our principal allowed five of us to use the girl’s toilet. It is, indeed, a welcome step to have separate toilets built for us.”
However, most of the college principals feel the plan cannot be implemented owing to space crunch and the fear among students of being identified.
“If a separate toilet is made for such students they would get marked and ragged. Moreover, most of the old colleges like mine do not have space for constructing a separate toilet within the existing facility,” said Shyamalendu Chatterjee, principal of Chittaranjan College and treasurer of All Bengal Principals’ Council.
Manabi Bandopadhyay, principal of Krishnanagar Women’s College who is also the first transgender college principal in India, feels sensitisation is the need of the hour.