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DU opens gates to third sex

New Delhi, Aug. 12: Delhi University has thrown open its gates to transgenders.

For the first time in its history, the university included “transgenders” as a gender option alongside males and females in its student and faculty application forms this year.

The option was available to all faculty applications across all departments, but only to students applying for post-graduate degree courses to start with.

Sources said the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Jawaharlal Nehru University would “soon” follow suit. Calcutta University and Jadavpur University hope to introduce the option next year, sources in the varsities said.

DU’s move came after a UGC notification to all universities to identify and accept transgenders, following the Supreme Court ruling in April categorising them as the “third gender”.

The notification stated that all universities should recognise the “third gender” and allow such students to avail themselves of all scholarship schemes and fellowship programmes in higher educational institutions.

Although this has made DU one of the first universities to introduce the new gender option since the top court order, Bangalore University had done so four years ago.

In 2010, Bangalore University modified its application form to include “TG” (transgenders) along with the “M” (male) and “F” (female) options. Since then, it has admitted transgender students under a reserved quota of one seat in each of the 60 post-graduate courses it offers.

DU officials said of the 90,000 post-graduate course applications this year, nine were from transgender students. But they could not specify whether the students actually took admission.

Lakshminarayan Tripathi, a transgender activist, said: “Most Indian universities say they never turn down admission requests from transgender candidates, but their forms did not have an option under the gender choices. We don’t like making that choice.

“It is important for educational institutions to create space for them and make a start by mentioning ‘others’ or ‘transgender’ in their application forms. This is a great start.”

The ministry of social justice and empowerment has been working to formulate a comprehensive scheme for transgenders covering all parameters laid down in the Supreme Court order and including the recommendations of an expert committee.

In April, the apex court had said that transgenders should be included in the OBC category, allowed admission in educational institutions and given jobs on the basis of third-gender status.

Last year, DU’s Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension had recommended to the social justice ministry that transgenders should be granted “third gender” status.

Rajesh, the department head, was a member of the expert committee that recommended that transgenders should be given access to health care and education at all levels without stigma or discrimination.

The Unique Identification Authority of India was the first government agency to introduce the “third gender” option in its enrolment forms for Aadhaar cards.