In a move that is both open minded and adhering to Supreme court’s ruling on April 15 earlier this year to recognize the third gender Pune’s Fergusson College has opened its gates for the transgender community by making a transgender option available in its admission application forms for the academic year 14-15. Activists and professors in the various colleges in the city welcomed the decision and have expressed the need for other colleges to take the cue.
Online forms allow students to tick 'Transgender' option
Speaking to dna and official at the admissions department in Fergusson college said , “Since Supreme Court has given recognition to the third gender and the election commission too had recognized the community during the general election and referred them as the 'third gender' in voter ids, the College too decided to make this option available on admission forms.” Admission forms available on the website have a gender section, within which apart from Male and female, they have now included third option as Transgender.
Pune based social activist, Bindumadhav Khire, the founder of Sampathik Trust said that it is a much welcomed and positive move towards the inclusion of gender minorities in main stream society. He further added that decisions such as these will help acceptance of the community by the society as a large. "We will now write a letter to Fergusson College and will appeal to other colleges to follow suit,” he added.
Since University of Pune is at the helm of making rules for the colleges in the city, the NGO will be writing to the Vice Chancellor of the University to implement more such steps that ensure inclusion of the sexual minorities more holistically. Khire believes that academic institutions should in fact be at the fore front of bringing about change in the mindsets of people by including the community more.
Sonal Giani, an equality activist who works with The Hum Safar Trust appreciates Fergusson College's move. She said," It is in a way finaly recognizing it's transgender students." " While transgender is an umbrella term for anyone who is non conforming to society's gender norms, it tends to be non specific. Everyone should be allowed to identify themselves as they are," she further added.
Prof R Raj Rao, the prominent gay rights activists and professor at the University of Pune's English Department said that it is a congratulatory move and other colleges should follow the suit.
Speaking to dna, Director of Board of Students Welfare, University of Pune applauded the decision of Fergusson College but said that varsity cannot make any compulsions on the colleges to follow suit, however they can create awareness and appeal colleges to replicate the step at their colleges.
Mani Nikaze plans to re-start her education next year
For Mani Nikaze (25) from Pune, who identifies as third gender believes that having the freedom to be who you are and getting the support from college administration would encourage several to continue education. “I faced ostracization at school and decided to not study further; and there are many like me who would eventually want to study more.” Nikaze has decided to gather funds this year and hopefully apply next year to pursue academics. “This decision will go a long way in gaining social acceptance, however difficult, it is not impossible anymore.”