The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 6 , 2014
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Tick M or F, no column for transgenders

- Third sex on UGC mind, off campus forms

Ranchi, Aug. 5: The formal notification of University Grants Commission (UGC) in July, asking varsities to introduce a separate column for transgenders or members of the third sex in admission forms and other education-related documents to respect their identity, has drawn a blank in Jharkhand’s institutions of higher learning.

Following the Supreme Court’s recognition of transgenders this April, seen as a progressive and sensitive move to accord dignity to the third sex and prevent human rights violations, the higher education regulator sought to encourage the community — mostly derided as garishly dressed beggars — on campuses as well.

But, as admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Ranchi, Kolhan, Vinoba Bhave, Sido-Kanhu Murmu, Nilambar Pitambar universities under the state and Central University of Jharkhand are underway or on the verge of ending, none has modified forms to include the third sex, besides the mandatory male’ and female.

The situation is the same everywhere, from St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, one of the most prestigious autonomous colleges in the state, to lesser-known district varsities.

“No, I don’t remember to have seen any option for third sex in the admission form that I downloaded,” recalled a fresher at St Xavier’s. “There isn’t one,” confirmed a senior official of the college.

Currently, admission of two-year postgraduate human rights course in Ranchi University is underway, with August 9 as the last date of submitting forms. Ironically, human rights department head-cum-course convener Prabhat Kumar also drew a blank when asked whether their application forms included an option for the third sex.

“It is a remarkable thing that you pointed it out. Honestly, we never thought about it,” Kumar told The Telegraph. “But, the population of transgender university students is negligible,” he added.

Reminded that lack of official recognition pushes transgenders out of mainstream spaces such as colleges and workplaces, Kumar said: “I agree.”

Asked if any outstation transgender candidate wants to take up the human rights course, Kumar said: “The change in admission form has to come from the varsity level.” But, he added that he had seen the UGC notification on recognising the third sex.

Prakash Kumar Singh, the registrar of Sido-Kanhu Murmu University in tribal heartland Dumka, conceded that the change in admission forms should have taken place by now after the UGC directive, but added that no decision had been taken so far at their varsity level.

“Introducing a new option in the sex column isn’t a big deal. But, this can only be done once we get the change approved by our academic council. No one actually thought of it but we will soon try to change our admission forms,” said Singh over phone.

The exact figures of transgender in Jharkhand aren’t known but about 26 from the state registered to vote during Lok Sabha election this year. Three of them are between 18 and 19 years, their ages suitable for college.

Actual numbers are much more. According to Anwar alias Annu Haji (76), head of the Jamal Miyan sect living in and around Ranchi, there were some 4,000 transgenders scattered in Sahebganj, Rampur Haat (Dumka), Gomo, Rajauli, Chakulia, Bermo, Chandanpura and Chakradharpur.