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Mumbai educational institute opens its doors to transgenders

“We are following the footsteps of our founder and believe that everyone has an equal right to education,” said Dr Meena Kute, registrar, SNDT Women’s University.

mumbai Updated: Apr 20, 2018 12:15 IST
Yesha Kotak and Shreya Soni
Mumbai,Transgender,LGBT
Harrish Iyer, an LGBTQ activist, said, “It is remarkable that universities are opening their minds and hearts to the transgender community.(HT PHOTO/PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATION ONLY)

Another educational institute has opened its doors to transgenders. SNDT Women’s University, Juhu, announced on Thursday that their admission form would now have a box that will allow students to identify themselves as transgenders, following which the admission for people from the community would open soon.

“We are following the footsteps of our founder and believe that everyone has an equal right to education. Thus SNDT University has initiated this so that transgenders would be involved. The proposal has been submitted to the management and various courses for transgenders will be incorporated soon,” said Dr Meena Kute, registrar, SNDT Women’s University.

SNDT (Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey) Women’s University, the first women’s university in India as well as in South-East Asia, was founded by Maharshi Dr Dhondo Keshav Karve in 1916. The university’s main campus is at Churchgate. Other campuses are at Juhu and Karve Road, Pune.

The university’s plan to recognise transgenders as a category comes around two weeks after Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) issued a notification announcing that it will soon have a hostel for transgender and gender non-conforming students. Last year, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) had also decided that they would give full fee waiver to transgender candidates, almost seven years after they opened admission for them.

Priya Patil, programme manager for NGO Kinnar Maa Ek Samajik Sanstha, said there would be no cap in SNDT on admission and that all courses in full-time and distance education would be open to members of her community.

“While we were working on Voluntary Health Services MSA Diva Project, we realised that only if we are educated will we able to reach out to others. Thus, the fact that SNDT will be providing us with this platform, it will help us get our members out of prostitution and begging,” Patil said.

Speaking about the stigma associated with being a transgender, Patil added, “Even after 70 years of independence, we have to go through so many basic problems and are not provided with any relief by the government. It saddens me to see that there are very few people here from my community here, but we hope this attitude changes in the near future.”

Harrish Iyer, an LGBTQ activist, said, “It is remarkable that universities are opening their minds and hearts to the transgender community. I hope that there is adequate sensitisation of non-transgender students, faculty and non-teaching staff so that they know that being kind and non-discriminatory is the best for all.”

Archana Bhatnagar, director of Research Centre for Women Studies (RCWS) at SNDT, said, “Change can only happen through education. We hope this serves as an example for other universities.”

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 10:31 IST