news Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 05:30

Image courtesy: Nayantara N It has been four years since Bangalore University (BU) introduced the “transgender” quota in post-graduate courses but there appears to be no takers, according to the admission representatives. University officials claim that they have not received a single application despite a seat being reserved in each of its 48 courses. BU was the first University in the country to introduce transgender or “TG” quota in their seat matrix, much before the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2014 which recognised transgender people as the “third sex”. In its application, the university had introduced “transgender” category apart from the usual male and female option, way back in 2010. Students are required to meet two conditions to claim seat under this quota - the student must have secured 50% marks in any undergraduate course and secondly, must submit a valid medical document from any doctor stating that they are transgender. An application which has the "transgender" option  Despite this, seats have remained vacant for four years. Sujata S Naikar who used to look after the admissions of post-graduate courses at BU says that the fear of facing discrimination from either students or teachers and inability to meet the eligibility requirements may have resulted in the failure to attract students. “We do not have any ragging here, but maybe transgender [people] feel that if they were to join, they may be subjected to ragging,” she says. BU has not yet conducted a survey to gauge the reaction of students and teachers to admitting transgender students. So The News Minute talked to five post-graduate students at the university to find out. All the students say they were not even aware of the quota in the first place and say they have no problem with a transgender student joining their university as they are “one among us”. “They should get their identity in society and they should be treated as equals,” Veena K, who is pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science, says. But they say that transgender students who join would be more likely to face some form ragging from members of the student body because of their identity. However, HV Srinivasan, Assistant Registrar at BU says that the issue needed to be addressed not at the post-graduate level but in lower rungs of the education ladder. “A real sense identification of one’s gender occurs around the age of 15 or 16 when a person has just finished schooling or in some case around 18 [years of age],” he says. It is during this period that students need help in terms of having special quota as “transgenders” Srinivasan says. “Since they drop out before or during under-graduation, where is the question of pursuing post-graduation?” he says. Echoing the sentiments of Srinivasan, Akkai Padmashali a transgender activist says the problem goes beyond discrimination. “Financial difficulties pose a hurdle in pursuing even degree courses since most of them live on their own, with little or no family backing,” she says. Srinivasan suggests that having reservation quotas in pre-university level or from Class 11 or at least in under-graduation would prove beneficial and may reduce the dropout rates. But Akkai feels the quota needs to be introduced much earlier in high school, since that is when most experience transition and drop out of school. “Most transgender [people] drop out in eighth or ninth standard because of bullying or teasing. As a result, nobody studies enough to do post-graduation. If the government can introduce quota preferably in high school, then it will help us,” she says.