Published: 10th July 2018
Kerala's transgender community welcomes state government's move to allot seats for them in colleges
In a move being praised as a progressive step towards inclusive education, the Kerala state government has decided to allot seats for transgender persons in colleges
Daya Gayathri joined Maharaja's college, Ernakulam for BA Economics during the 2013-14 academic year as a male student. Though she completed her course from the college, she had few back papers due to frequent harassment from some college mates for her gender difference. Daya had applied for BA Malayalam at Maharaja college this year after her surgery but could not get admission. These students often have to discontinue their studies or join other academic institutions after an academic year or after the admission process is closed.
In a move being praised as a progressive step towards inclusive education, the Kerala state government has decided to allot seats for transgender persons in colleges. The Higher Education department issued a government order on July 3, stating that two additional seats would be allotted for transgender persons in all university courses.
"People like us always had to fight against the discrimination from our own families and society. We also face emotional conflicts at the same time. Regardless of all the challenges we face, we too have big plans for our future. This reservation will give me a chance to proudly continue the course with my own identity along with those students who previously made fun of my gender. I see this chance as a sweet revenge towards them," said Daya, who hopes to return to the college this year as a proud transwoman scholar.
Theertha who was a B-tech student in Ernakulam and Praveen Nath who was pursuing BA English in Palakad had to dropout from their college due to societal issues. They now wish to join for BA English Literature at Maharaja's college, along with Daya. The decision to submit a petition was taken by these three students when they failed to get admission for higher studies in Maharaja's college. They approached the state Social Justice Department, which along with other departments initiated this major step towards inclusive education.
"A new order by the Kerala government puts the state miles ahead of others in India in the field of transgender rights. The initiatives are taken by the government to end the societal stigma towards the sexual minority group and ensure non-discriminatory treatment. Now people like us can pursue higher education with our own identity as a transgender," said Syama, a treasurer of the Oasis Cultural Society.
"I am pursuing higher secondary equivalence course under Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority 'Samanwaya' scheme, and would like to do Sociology after completion of this course. The new order has come as a blessing to us who want to pursue higher education but was pushed back by the society due to various discriminations," said Sreelachu who had to dropout from school in the year 1995 due to her gender change.
"At present I am doing Xth equivalence course under Samanwaya. If age do not stop me from achieving my dreams I am interested to do BA Malayalam Literature after my higher secondary courses," said Asma.
"It's a good decision but it took time to get implemented, as some of us could have achieved our dreams if the order was sanctioned earlier. Still I doubt on the acceptance from the society as the change has to come from the basic level. We need to look at individuals talent rather than their gender to come forward in any field," said Zara Sheikha, Senior HR Associate at UST Global, who is a transwoman.