Why Creating An ‘Others’ Category Isn’t Enough To Encourage Trans Students To Apply

Posted on June 12, 2016 in Cake, LGBTQ

By Cake Staff:

Delhi University is trans-inclusive only on the application form. In 2015, they introduced an ‘other’ option under the ‘gender’ category on their application forms, and this will be the second year that this particular option will be in place during admissions. However, DU lacks any kind of guidelines or additional facilities to integrate transgender or gender nonconforming students into the university.

The only specific policy which DU has in terms of transgender students is its decision last year to not allow students who identified as trans women or any other ‘feminine’ gender nonconforming identity into its women’s colleges, which was met with discontent and opposition from students and faculty alike. However, even in its co-educational colleges and departments (which do offer the ‘other’ option on its form), there is no specific infrastructure to encourage gender nonconformity—such as gender-neutral bathrooms, or proper provisions to deal with sexual harassment of trans students. Even the new University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for reporting sexual harassment on campus seem to mention trans people only as an afterthought.

Last year, 66 aspirants had applied under the ‘other’ category but not a single one of them joined – and a study conducted by the university’s department of ‘adult, continuing education and extension’ cited the “lack of supporting infrastructure, grievance committees, formal orientation programme, and sensitisation programme for students and faculties” as a reason for this. This year, there are six applicants from the category so far.

While Manabi Bhattacharya made history last year by becoming India’s first transgender college principal, Indian academia still has a long way to go when it comes to actual inclusion of trans identities. Like DU, many other universities, like TATA Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Mumbai University and so on, have the ‘other’ option in their forms, but they have hardly admitted any trans students, or given their existing trans students the facilities they need. Rajesh (who conducted the study mentioned above and runs a community outreach programme for trans awareness) told Hindustan Times, “There should be clear directives from the higher authorities such as UGC or the vice-chancellor for more trans-inclusive policies and resources. There is a need to revise the anti-discrimination policy in the light of transgender students.