Applicants to Pune's Fergusson College can now choose 'third gender' option

Pune's Fergusson College has become the first of its kind in India by allowing students to choose 'transgender' as an option when filling up admission forms, according to a report in The Hindu.

The report quotes the principal of the college Ravindra Pardeshi as saying, “We believe that there should be equal space for all identities. After the option was recently exercised in the elections, we thought that it was a logical step for the college to follow. I realise that this is only a preliminary step. We have a long way to go in being inclusive in practice.”

The online application forms of the college now have the third gender option.

Pardeshi however added that "the actual number of students who chose the transgender option will be known after the admission process is completed next month". One transgender student told the paper that while the move wouldn't change mindset, "it was definitely a good move" by the college.

Sonal Giani, an equality activist who works with The Hum Safar Trust told DNA on the decision, "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."

Applicants to Punes Fergusson College can now choose third gender option

Representational Image. AFP

Meanwhile the Director of Board of Students Welfare, University of Pune told DNA that while Fergusson's decision was laudable, "the varsity cannot make any compulsions on the colleges to follow suit", other than "create awareness and appeal colleges to replicate the step".

The decision of the college comes post the Supreme Court verdict in April of this year which recognised the third gender. The apex court said that trangenders were respected earlier in the society but situation has changed and they now face discrimination and harassment.

The verdict added that section 377 of IPC is being misused by police and other authorities against transgenders whose social and economic conditions are far from satisfactory. The bench clarified that its verdict pertains only to eunuchs.

The bench said they are part and parcel of the society and the government must take steps to bring them in the mainstream of society. The apex court passed the order on a PIL filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) urging the court to give separate identity to transgenders by recognising them as third category of gender.

And while Pune's Fregusson has become the first college to give transgender students an opportunity to use their identity while applying for admission, this is not the case for other colleges in India. The SC verdict is yet to be translated into a reality, at least on admission forms in colleges.

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Updated Date: Jun 29, 2014 14:13:39 IST

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