NEW DELHI: The law empowered them and the court opened doors but it will take a lot more to fight well-entrenched prejudice and bias. Getting a university education remains a traumatic experience for transgenders, forcing some of them to drop out and explore options. They move away from the mainstream, rather than integrate with it.
Delhi University introduced the third gender category in the postgraduate application form in 2014 and in the undergraduate application next year, following a landmark judgement by Supreme Court, but society lags behind. The community has, however, kept its hopes alive. The university received four applications in this category in 2015 and 15 in 2016.This year, 70 applications have been received so far! Colleges need to sensitise other students and counsel the transgenders who are coming in now if they are to stay the course.

Aarav Singh, 19, has been emotionally bruised by his first year in college. A transgender, he identifies himself as a male, but since his biological identity was female, all his records proclaim him to be Simran Kaur. So, after school, he had to join an all-girls college. The year that followed has left him scarred.

Other students poked fun at him for his masculine behaviour and dress preferences. Teachers too would ask him questions about his identity.

Such was his sense of isolation that Aarav opted out of college after first year and chose to work towards gender transition in the hope of embracing a male identity that was closer to his real self. The process is on and Aarav is now more than confident of where he stands in this gender tussle between male, female and other. Aarav says he is keen to return to his studies but a regular college is out of question as he fears the stares and questioning and lack of empathy.

He is now part of a group of young members of the transgender community who wish to get an education and a career. They have come together this admission season with the support of voluntary organisations Transgender Welfare Equity and Empowerment Trust (TWEET Foundation) and Humsafar Trust to chart a course. Their first stop will be IGNOU.

Rehana Yadav, 24, who is in her final year of graduation, is struggling to rid herself of her biological tag of male as reflected in her school documents. Her transition into the woman that she aspires to be is on but her past haunts her. When TOI met her, she had just returned from her examination centre. “Since I have been registered as a male in the records, based on my school documents – though I have documents like Voter’s ID and Aadhar that show me to be a transgender and my college form puts me in the “others” category – I was asked to provide a medical certificate to prove my transgender identity. Why should I need a certificate to establish myself as a transgender? When I am saying so and my basic documents mention it, why can’t colleges and universities accept this fact,” asks Rehana.

Credits: Ambika Pandit, TOI, Published in Times of India Delhi Edition on 08th June 2017; Photo Credits: Abheena Aher (TWEET Foundation)

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