Three transgender students from Ernakulam in Kerala were refused admission in a college due to several reasons, one of them being their gender identity. The students then approached the State Transgender Justice Cell and filed a complaint against the college, which then forwarded the request to the state government. The State Justice Board then informed the ministry in control who passed it forward quickly because the academic session is going to start soon. They issued the order in the favour of the queer community, Theertha Sarvika, one of the three students, informed me.
“Maharajas College in Ernakulam provided a column for the transgenders, so three of us applied for the admission. We got ranks in the list that came out. When I went to the college, they got to know that I am a trans, and so they changed the list. The students having lower ranks than mine were selected and I was rejected,” they say.
The Kerala state government has issued an order reserving two additional seats exclusively for transgender students in all courses in universities and affiliated arts and science colleges in the state. The good news for the queer community of Kerala is out and making people proud.
Prijith, the founder and member of Queerythm, a 24×7 helpline for the LGBTQ Community in Kerala says, “It’s a victory for the community and a reflection of the NALSA (National Legal service authority) judgement. The Government is taking steps towards the betterment of the LGBTQ community and we are thankful towards them.”
Theertha, being a satisfied receiver of the new order, adds, “When we compare ourselves with other students, we were totally boycotted from the community and now it’s a huge opportunity for us to move further.”
The transgender community has always faced backlash and rejection from people around them. It is observed that there has been a high number of dropouts from transgender students across India. Queerythm gets calls from college going students who complain mostly about getting bullied and harassed on campus. They are unaware as to how they can deal with the stigma.
“When Praveen (another transgender student), and I openly accepted our sexuality, he faced rejection from his classmates and teachers. I struggled a lot for my education,” Theertha says.
After the victorious step taken by the Kerala Government, there is still an insecurity in the minds of the activists and transgender students. The question that how will the colleges welcome their new students, still sticks in the minds of the survivors. Prijith expresses his concern and says, “We already have a guideline by UGC but its time to revise the statement and ensure a better and a queer-friendly campus for the students.”
Srijith, another queer activist in Chennai, further explains, “This is an order to be celebrated, but is very late. A student who passed out from school in 2014, will now be able to join the college, in 2018. She is four years late in her education.”
Srijith believes that there is a financial crisis faced by a lot of transgender people and so they resort to sex work after attending college. He says, “I request on behalf of the community, that the Government provide free accommodation and education facilities for the community so that it becomes easier for them to attain their rights.” He also feels that the number of seats reserved is too less and that it should at least be increased to five.
Theertha expressed, “As a step towards mixing ourselves into the community, we will mingle with the fellow classmates and will make them realise that we are also one amongst them, we also have the right to education. We request the colleges to open up hostels and washrooms for us. We don’t talk about placing a special trans washroom, but a common one for all the genders.”
Many queer activists believe that the society needs to respect the LGBTQ group and not give them the negative environment. All the citizens have the Right to Education and it should not be taken away on the basis of gender.
“We are fully satisfied because we can only move from a small scale, a two-seat reservation is a huge gift to us. I believe in miracles, and this proved to be a miracle for us,” Theertha says.