Published: 18th January 2023
Is Anna University charging trans students Rs 13,000 to change photo on degree certificate?
An alumnus of the institute, Arun, also stated that the option of transgender was missing in the application form
"I always dreamt of going to Canada to pursue my master's degree. I want to pursue so many things that are there on my bucket list," said Arun Karthick, a 28-year-old trans man, who escaped from his house in Madurai at the age of 22 after he was forced to marry a man against his wishes. Arun, however, missed his opportunity to apply for higher studies abroad because Anna University, in Tamil Nadu, where Arun pursued his BTech, failed to update his name, gender and photograph on the degree certificate, which he requested for following his transition.
Arun currently works an IT job. He informed EdexLive that he reached out to Anna University in 2018 to change his gender on the degree certificate. The concerned authorities asked him to implement the same change in other documents such as the Class X certificate. "I got all of that changed and reached out to the university again. But I faced a lot of discrimination. They asked me why I am changing my gender. They played with me by redirecting me multiple times, asking me to come some other time as the director was in meetings," Arun said.
He narrates his ordeal
Arun's efforts came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I used to work many jobs then because I was saving money for my transition. I worked as a delivery person with Zomato and as a Rapido driver as well. I lost my job and all my savings. I fell sick and developed health issues. It took me a long time to recover. But my goal always was to transition and then develop my career. But to develop my career and go abroad, I needed to change my gender on the degree certificates," Arun said.
He approached Anna University again in November 2022, with an application signed by the principal of K L N College of Engineering (where he was studying), affiliated with Anna University. "My college was very cooperative but for the past three months, Anna University has been making me go from Madurai to Chennai just to get one paper signed. I even submitted extra proofs to them," Arun said.
No medical proof required
The Supreme Court gave a landmark verdict in 2014 which came to be known as the NALSA judgement. Among other things, the judgement made it clear that only a transgender person gets to choose their gender, no one else. Further, a person can identify as the gender ‘opposite’ to their birth-assigned gender or as a third gender. The verdict also stated that it is both illegal and immoral to ask for proof of hormone therapy or surgery. However, Arun stated that he was asked to provide a medical certificate as proof.
"I also wrote a letter to the in charge of the controller of examinations. But they were very stereotypical. They asked if I was changing my gender to avail a government scheme. Eventually, they said they can only change my name and gender to a 'man' and not transgender," Arun said.
No transgender option
The application form only had male and female options. "They told me this and then started brainwashing me. Moreover, they asked me to pay Rs 13,000 to change my photograph on the form as well. I would be willing to pay if the transgender option was there," Arun said. He wrote to the Vice-Chancellor and to the Controller of Examination of Anna University about the missing transgender option and requested to waive the huge fee and process his application at the earliest, however, the university failed to process his request on time, a post by 'Yes, We Exist India' (a page on Instagram that raises awareness about LGBTQIA+ community) said.
Application form | Image: Sourced
The deadline to apply for his preferred college in Canada was January 15, 2023. Arun informed EdexLive that he submitted his old documents with his old name and gender but it was rejected. "I have to wait another year to apply again and I still haven't received any update from the university," he added.
EdexLive has reached out to the Vice-Chancellor for a comment. The copy will be updated as and when it is received.