Saluting Jadavpur University for recognizing the Third Gender
“You know, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – people are people.”
The third gender, which constitutes 4.9 lakh population of India or the Hijras, the most famous Indian third gender which are a minority, are still not given the basic rights which guarantee civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. Cultural and Educational rights preserve the right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. But, unfortunately, the minorities have suffered a huge deal when it comes to education. The forms for getting admission in the Indian colleges do not have the category of third gender. The reason being: No one really thinks about them. Ask yourself, have you ever thought of a third gender teaching you, or getting a bureaucratic job? Or becoming the President of a country?
In 2014, the Supreme Court on Tuesday created the “third gender” status for hijras or transgenders. Earlier, they were forced to write male or female against their gender. The apex court has said that transgender will be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category. In theory the law has been accepted, but in practice, our minds are still not open enough to accept the third gender in each and every sphere of life.
After Mumbai University in February 2015 and Panjab Univesity in March 2015, breaking the age old social barrier and bringing in the category of third gender in their admission forms, it is now Jadavpur University which has come to recognize the third gender in India. Come this scholastic year, and the confirmation structures will have a ‘third gender’ choice other than the male and female choices. In a late meeting held between a few colleges and advanced education offices, this proposition was mooted by college powers. On the other hand, Presidency University powers were among the first to take up this activity, just to be conveyed forward by Jadavpur University.
To begin with the Arts Faculty admission forms will have the third gender alternative. Educationists feel, an activity like this will help the third sexual orientation make a space for themselves and get a fitting training foundation. “Admissions to the Arts Faculty begin now, so we have taken up this initiative for the Arts Faculty. We will gradually implement it across all the other Faculties,” said P K Ghosh, enlistment center, Jadavpur University.This is for the first time that the third gender has got formal recognition by an educational institute in West Bengal.
As humans, it is difficult for us to understand the complexities of the human brain and body. We understand little about our own self and feel dismantled owing to the fragmentation caused by the societal norms and conventions. Most of us maintain a public, personal and secret self to reinforce the image that we want to form in a person’s mind. And this anxiety to form an image is the result of the conventions founded by the powerful. Straights, men, rich, upper caste Hindus are some of the people who fall in the category of being powerful. Michel Foucault in his essay on power and truth talks about the fact that power and truth are in fact cyclically related. A person gains power using the truth of having knowledge and then once in power, whatever he says becomes the absolute truth. This truth is used by him to marginalise the ‘other’. This has been the case with the people belonging to the third gender. People are so dreaded by the thought of belonging to the third gender that they never come out. Secrecy and Stigma are worse than the condition itself, which is categorised as awful by the society. Without truth and straightforwardness, it is hard to pass laws, give equivalent rights, offer support and help for all. We need to have an environment which encourages truth, resilience, and appreciation for all. Until and unless such an environment is established, it is difficult for the people belonging to the third gender to come out confident. Once this is achieved, it will be easy to accept people for their uniqueness and believe in uniqueness being a universal thing.
Clearly, the other educational institutions of India should learn from Jadavpur University and provide the third gender – a room of their own. This will not only lead to the deconstruction of the norms, but also help in exploring myriad talent that flourishes in each and every individual. For, at the end of the day it should not matter of what gender you are. The government and the educational instituitions should work together to spread awareness about the third genders and work for a plan that make people understand how important transgenders are for the Indian society and economy. The point of focus should be the talent that exists in all humans, regardless of their caste, creed, sex and race.Discriminating somebody on the basis of their sexuality is as hard hitting as discrimination on the basis of caste, colour and creed and this kind of discrimination should be considered a crime. We Salute Jadavpur University for its effort in decentring the centre and establishing equality when it comes to education and career.