India’s first transgender to become the principal of a college in West Bengal is all set to write a tell-all memoir. And Manabi Bandyopadhyay is determined to “expose” the people who allegedly hounded her after she set free the woman trapped in a man’s body through a sex-change surgery.
“I don’t believe in looking back. Of late, I don’t get any time for that either. But yes, when I have to look back at those years for the book, I do remember those harrowing times. And I will expose those men,” Bandyopadhyay told HT on Friday.
In June this year, Bandyopadhyay, 52, became the principal of Krishnanagar Women’s College in Nadia district, seen a game-changing moment for the country’s LGBT community, the commonly used term to describe lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
She had earlier penned a Bengali novel on eunuchs – Endless Bondage -- that became a national bestseller.
Born as Somnath in a middle class family in the suburbs on Naihati in North 24 Parganas district, she underwent a sex-change surgery in 2003. She was forced out of the hostel of Vivekananda Shatabarshiki College in Jhargram, West Midnapore, where she served as a lecturer of Bengali at that time.
“I was subjected to inhuman torture, a kind of torture that perhaps only women can bear. I guess I survived because I am a woman. The book will reflect how I am a woman,” she said on the sidelines of a seminar at in Burdwan district where college students thronged to take selfies with her.
Accusing the male teachers in the college of making life hell for her, Bandyopadhyay said: “May be they were afraid of getting carried away by my example and themselves starting to wear sarees.”
The education department under the Left Front government had refused to consider her as a woman despite the sex-change surgery and did not give her the increments that she should have received following completion of PhD.
She had completed her PhD under her new name, Manabi, adopted legally through an affidavit. But government records refused to update her changed sex.
“Soon after coming in power, chief minister Mamata Banerjee responded to my application and ensured that I got all my dues cleared and official records changed. Life has magically changed since the government’s recognition of my gender and contributions,” she said. She has also been appointed as the vice-chairperson of state Transgender Development Board.
She has already signed a contract with a leading publisher for her autobiography.