The State Transport Authority (STA) has finally included the provision of deployment of transgenders on buses transporting schoolchildren in its Safe Transportation Policy for Students (STRAPS).
The move comes after the Punjab and Haryana high court sought details from the UT administration on objection being raised by schools to hire transgender attendants. The move is now being appreciated by all stakeholders, especially schools.
Under the sub-head on “Responsibilities of bus operators/contractors/transporters”, the fifth point states that there must a qualified attendant on the vehicle (a woman attendant in case of girl students and a transgender in case of non-availability of a woman attendant. Confirming the development, additional secretary, STA, Chandigarh, Rajiv Tewari said: “We have included the provision of appointing transgenders as attendants in the policy.”
Though school principals lauded the initiative, they said there was a need to sensitise schoolchildren about the same. Strawberry Fields World School chairman Atul Khanna said: “As a school, we are open to all suggestions, though it will be imperative for all of us to sensitise students about this.”
Principal of St John’s High School Kavita C Das said: “Transgenders also have equal rights. They deserve respect and the fundamental right of right to livelihood.”
Delhi Public School principal Reema Dewan said: “I think equal opportunity based on merit should be given and hence it is a good step.”
Principal, The Gurukul, Panchkula, Harsimran Kaur said: “The move also addresses the neglected issue of giving equal job opportunities to transgenders and including them in the mainstream society.”
President of the Independent Schools Association, Chandigarh, HS Mamik said: “I hope the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) and other institutions take the lead and we as private institutes will follow.”
Organisations working for the welfare of transgenders have also hailed the move, but are apprehensive too. President of Saksham Trust, a communitybased organisation that works for equal human rights and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the tricity, Dhananjay Chauhan, said: “It is heart-warming to know that a provision has been made for transgenders following high court intervention. I feel schools must introduce a chapter on these people as has been done in Chhattisgarh, so as to familiarise children with them.”
A transgender, Kaajal Mangal Mukhi, 42, of Manimajra, said: “I am glad that the provision has been made for us in the policy, but people must stop harassing us and treating us like untouchables. There is a need to change the mindset. The cultural setup is as such that people still categorise us.”