Transgender student


The University of Delhi is aiming to include more transgender students during the University admission process, but given the archaic thoughts in Indian society, will this lead to positive consequences or their further isolation?

In 2015, the University of Delhi (DU) introduced the option of a ‘third gender’ to its admission forms. But for the next three years no admission was taken under this category. To improve this, in 2018, DU further established a Transgender Resource Center  to reach out to more transgender students but the authorities met the same fate.

The authorities have now decided to reach out to encourage more admissions of transgender students. The process will involve reaching out to neighbourhoods, organising camps and sessions, spreading information about the admission process, and requirements regarding the same. Student volunteers and NGOs working for the welfare of the community will be actively involved in the process. The centre would also engage in dialogues with female professors and students to remove the restrictions related to the admission of transgenders in all women colleges.The University authorities have also collaborated with National AIDS Control Organisation, Delhi and Haryana state AIDS control societies for the same.

A number of harassment cases have also been noticed in the past. A student’s petition led to the Article 354(A) under the Indian Penal Code which allowed transgender individuals to complain against harassment. Another transgender student on speaking to a national daily spoke how they were called a chakka on the day of admissions itself. The problem also extends to lack of washrooms and other provisions for these students.

Transgender students have appealed to the court to allow them to change their name and gender in forms. However, this can be allowed only if they change it on their school certificates. The High Court ordered the officials from Central Board of Secondary Education to meet the University authorities and take a decision on the same. This is also because 80% of the applicants are from CBSE. For now, these students are only applying to the School of Open Learning.

Devyani Arora of Kamala Nehru College provided a positive view on the same. She said, “For any sort of inclusivity, there would be certain barriers, but the idea of starting something like this becomes extremely important. The inclusion of transgenders is not just needed, but also a great step for their upliftment.”

For the community to gain acceptance, it needs access to education which can further lead to their emancipation.

Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

(With inputs from The Times of India)

Shivani Dadhwal

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed CBSE and University of Delhi to arrange for a medium for transgenders to attain changes in name and gender, in educational records.

On Wednesday, 20th February 2019, the bench comprising of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao showcased its disapproval to the University of Delhi (DU) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in declining the change of name and gender for a transgender person. It stated that when the Supreme Court had recognised their gender identity, education bodies must rise to the occasion to help.

The bench was hearing a PIL (Personal Interest Litigation) challenging the guidelines of the Centre, DU, and CBSE for the change of name and gender by a person. The petition has contended that the guidelines under challenge are “depriving her of the right to live with dignity and to self-identify her gender which is different from the one assigned at birth.”

This was not agreeable to both the education bodies as CBSE stated that name and gender needed to be changed before the 10th or the 12th grade, and DU responded by stating that to make changes in the University’s records, changes must be made in the school records.

The High Court disapproved of their stand and responded, “You cannot say its history for you. You keep your history, but give her a certificate declaring her changed name and gender. Give a declaration without changing your records. You should understand the practical problems they suffer. If they apply for a passport now, it will be put in objection due to contradiction in her name and gender no and what is shown in their education records. You need to be considerate. You cannot put everyone in one basket and say you won’t do it.”

The court by stating, “let us work out what can be done” further assured the petitioner that her right to gender identity was a Constitutional Right recognised by the Apex Court. It instructed both the statutory bodies to come with solutions with respect to the problem and listed this case for further hearing on 13th March 2019.

Image Credits: World Politics Review

Stephen Mathew

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Anushree Joshi

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(With inputs from The New Indian Express)



The present judgement of Supreme Court does seem to offer some amount of hope and relied to a community that has been systematically maltreated and discriminated against for centuries and has lived constantly under the shadow of exploitation, trafficking, harassment and lack of control over bodily autonomy.
Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. Transgender people are sometimes called transsexual if they desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another. Transgender is also an umbrella term : in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women), it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine (people who are gender queer or non binary, including bi gender , pan gender , gender fluid, or a gender).

Though they had an extremely fluid representation in Indian mythology and traditional folklore, with the advent of colonial era that brought along with it the victorian idea of suppressed sexuality, marginalised and pushed this group to the fringes of society. Though attempts have been made for reconstructing their identity and including them in society; the efforts are either half hearted or lost in political tensions and turmoils.

Since 2014, transgender people in India have been allowed to change their gender without sex reassignment surgery, and have a constitutional right to register themselves under a third gender. On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalised homosexuality by declaring Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional.[1] The Court unanimously ruled that individual autonomy, intimacy, and identity are protected fundamental rights.

The trans community is currently battling the state to stop the Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill, which has been labelled a ‘death sentence’ by the community. Amid the bleakness, the Delhi High Court’s latest ruling is a ray of light. The Delhi High court has ruled section 354A of the Indian Penal Code seats with sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment. This decision was taken in light of the refusal of the police to entertain a petition regarding sexual harassment filed by a transgender student of Delhi University who wanted to file a complaint against her male peers who allegedly sexually harassed her, but the lack of an appropriate penalty code section hampered the process and a case was filed regarding then same.

“The Petitioner is painfully aware that she was sexually harassed because of her gender identity and expression, which is that of a transgender woman. The Petitioner is also aware that she was denied a legal remedy because of her gender identity and expression as a transgender woman,” the petitioner had stated in her appeal to the court. The initial interpretation of the article according to the petitioner only offered protection to a “woman”, an example of heteronormative patriarchy at its worst and a grave violation of fundamental rights promised to every Indian citizen irrespective of their gender.

While the division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Central government to make clear its stand on the issue, this did not happen. The Delhi police, however, intervened and registered the petitioner’s FIR under section 354A of the IPC and proceeded to investigate the case.

With this response the case wasn’t pressed further and dropped by the petitioner.

Though this is minuscule in terms of the agenda of social political and economic equality that the trans genders are supposed to achieve, however placed in the current political and social scenario which is extremely unfavourable towards them its is a massive achievement. The community after decades of struggle had managed to at least achieve the basic right to have their grievances heard and have redressal measures implemented.

Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Bhavika Behal
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How should institutions founded on the notion that female-only spaces are vital, respond to and incorporate transgender students? 

Sehba (name changed on request) joined a girls’ college affiliated to the University of Delhi (DU) in the academic year 2016- 17. Born as a female, he never identified with the gender he was assigned at birth. He underwent a gender affirming surgery when he was in his second year of college. While he has had to struggle with the transition and guarded acceptance from his family, the college administration has made matters worse by threatening to cancel his admission. Four months into the gender affirming surgery, the status of his admission and continuance in the college is shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.

The questions revolving around this issue have wider connotations which have confounded admission officials at women’s colleges of DU in recent years. Should transgender women be allowed to apply? If so, how far into the gender transition process must an applicant be to be recognised as a woman? The transgender rights movement has now gained visibility, thereby challenging the existing institution of single-sex education in India, which has always been a largely heteronormative space.

Just how many transgender students, if any, are attending women’s colleges in DU remains unknown. Many colleges won’t disclose such information citing privacy concerns. Notwithstanding this, there has been a rise in the presence of transgender students in girls’ colleges across the country. With this increased visibility comes backlash that materialises in harassment against trans students.

When asked about the steps taken, if any, by college managements to prevent harassment of transgender students in girls’ colleges, Professor Arunima Roy, said, “We as an institution do whatever is in our capacity to provide counseling to the concerned students and figure out a suitable arrangement for them. However, the situation becomes tricky since the varsity has not issued specific guidelines regarding the admittance of transgender students in girls’ colleges.”

When DU Beat asked a graduate from Miranda House, Harshita Gujral, whether trans students should be allowed in a girls’ college or not, she responded in the affirmative and said, “Trans people are equally deserving of the kind of rights-centred environment that women’s colleges provide.” However, another graduate from the same college, Panchi Kalra, said, “Giving such status to trans people in women’s colleges would ultimately undermine the institutional mission to empower women.”

Women’s colleges of DU have long offered women a sanctuary from certain aspects of discrimination they face in the wider world. Now, these colleges have to decide whether or not to broaden their horizons of feminism, after all, intersectionality is everything.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak
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A University of Delhi graduate who identifies as a transgender has filed a petition against the Department of Publications of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and DU. The petitioner, Riya Sharma, is a 23-year-old student who identifies as female but was assigned a male identity at birth. Sharma’s birth certificate and CBSE documents have gender and name details of her male, pre-transitioned self, which she is attempting to change.

She claimed to have sent two applications to the Department regarding the changes but as per the CBSE guidelines, such changes can be made only before the publication of results. University norms require the changes to be made in the board documents before changes are made in the university documents. As per the petitioner, the Department of Publications of the CBSE required that a sex reassignment surgery is undergone before the change of name and gender. In this regard, she was asked to produce an affidavit and a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) certificate to execute the change in name. She is contesting this requirement by mentioning a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that allowed for only self-identification as a requirement, and held that insistence on a sex reassignment surgery for declaring one’s gender was “illegal and immoral”.

The petition was initially directed at DU and the Centre but included CBSE after the certificate demand. The Delhi High Court had also issued notices to the parties for not taking an interest in the issue and not changing the guidelines by themselves speedily. Sharma has also faced harassment at the hands of classmates, and while giving examinations as officials made her get a certificate from the university every time she gave an exam. Of her days in the School of Open Learning, she said, “SOL (School of Open Learning) have classes every weekend. Students in the class were constantly making fun of me. They were teasing me with slurs and cracking jokes on my gender. There was no other transgender person in the class and I felt so humiliated. I didn’t go after that”.

The university introduced the ‘Other’ gender option for its postgraduate courses’ forms in 2014 (and for undergraduates in 2015) which was hailed as a step forward. However, instances of institutional and societal discrimination probably also account for the fact that in 2016 only 15 applications of this category were received, signaling that immediate attention needs to be directed towards this category of students.

Sources: India Today, News18 , livelaw.in, Times of India
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Rishika Singh

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