The Supreme Court in 2014 had identified transgenders as the third gender. Since then, the SNDT University, which is the first women’s university in India and South-East Asia, introduced the third gender category in its admission form in order to grant admission to transgenders. The resolution in the agenda meeting stated, “Modification be made in the application forms accordingly as well as separate facilities are proposed (washrooms, classrooms, etc).”

Education As A Means Of Doing Something Better With Life

31-year-old transgender Sanjana Shetty, along with working in Mumbai’s dance bars, also takes out some time to study. She, along with other people like her lives in her Andheri flat, where she finds a quiet corner to study for two hours. She’ll be appearing for her B.Com second term exams and hence has to find time in between her work in order to study, as reported by Indian Express.

After SNDT opened admissions for the transgender community following the third gender recognition by the court, NGO Kinnar Maa trust started reaching out to individuals to persuade them to take up education.

While she had to discontinue her studies sometime back, Shetty rejoined in order to do something better with her life. Not only she but other 20 of her friends are using the opportunity of education and looking forward to pursuing something better in life. They have enrolled in various courses such as B.Com, human resource management, social work and BBA, parallel to a life of begging on local trains, dancing at bars or sex work.

No Choice But To Leave Home

Shetty was brought up as a boy but ultimately she realised that she is different. “During my teenage years, I realised that I was different. My neighbours would point it out, so would classmates,” she says. When she told her father about this, he started beating her. “They tried to treat me. But when I turned 18, I had no choice but to leave home.”

At this age, when she was all set to join college for Hotel Management, she had no roof over her. Forced by circumstances, she had to join a Mumbai bar, where she would be paid Rs 2,000 per day. There she wore sarees and ghagra cholis and made friends within the transgender community.

NGO Kinnar Maa Trust started reaching out to individuals after SNDT opened admission for transgenders

After SNDT opened admissions for the transgender community following the third gender recognition by the court, NGO Kinnar Maa Trust started reaching out to individuals to persuade them to take up education. Shetty then came forward and gave an entrance exam for B.Com Distance Learning Course. Having cleared the exam, she now studies every weekend and appears for the exam every six months. Bhagwan Barge, who is attached with the department of distance learning, says several transgenders did not have Class X or Class XII certificate. “Lack of documents is an issue which we try and resolve on a case-to-case basis,” he says. Kinnar Maa Trust provides reference letters in a majority of cases.

Employment Options Limited For Transgenders Following Lack Of Education

Salma Khan, who is Mumbai’s first transgender to become a member of Mumbai District Suburban Legal Services Authority says that since there is a lack of education when it comes to transgenders, the employment options hence are also limited. “We are hopeful that more colleges will introduce a third gender category to encourage transgenders to study. All they need is a friendly environment,” she says

“I realised education is the only reason why our community is tortured. My mother would tell me that I would have to beg like other transgenders. But I want to become an IAS officer, to ensure that the government does not discriminate against us,” she says.

“I realised education is the only reason why our community is tortured. My mother would tell me that I would have to beg like other transgenders. But I want to become an IAS officer, to ensure that the government does not discriminate against us,” says Sonalee Pradeep Chaukekar who wanted to become an IAS officer.

Pic Credit: The Pioneer

Read More: Bollywood Is Obsessed With Fair Girls: Actor Sayani Gupta

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.