Bengaluru: Leading the way in bringing transgenders into the mainstream, St Joseph’s Evening College has given admission to a transsexual, Sana Shri, following efforts made by Ondede, an organisation that works for the uplift of sexual minorities.
Thanks to the organisation, which is headed by Akkai Padmashali, Sana, a 26-year-old, is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Political Science and Sociology, after going through a long struggle of discrimination and humiliation.
Way back in 2005, Sana took admission in one of the colleges in Bengaluru to pursue BBM. Then, she used to be in male attire with feminine personality. She had to drop out of the college, because of constant humiliation and sexual exploitation. She had never imagined that she would ever be able to pursue her studies with her own identity. She says, “Thanks to Akkai and her organisation Ondede, today I can pursue my education. I am very happy. I too want to become a journalist someday like you.”
She says, “After I dropped out of college, my family too asked me to leave. I lost my father when I was in eighth standard. Ten years ago, there was no Supreme Court ruling and no awareness among the people. My family distanced itself from me. Then I started working for Sangama, FoodWorld and other places to eke out a living.”
All through her hardships, she nurtured the dream of pursuing her studies. In 2012, she applied to Bangalore University, but her application was rejected as her school certificates identified her as male, while her application stated that she was female. “I was even asked to prove that I was female,” she says. In 2012, her mother got in touch with her. “By 2012, a lot of awareness had been created and my mother had changed too. She called me at midnight and asked me to come over the next day,” she says.
But Sana was asked to come in a burqa as her mother was scared of her neighbours and was worried about the marriage prospects of her elder daughter. She says, “I even attended my sister’s weeding in a burqa. Today, my mother stays with me in Frazer Town, and she is happy.” Sana works with a tourism company, Equations, during the day and attends college in the evening.
On getting Sana admission in the college, Akkai says, “A few months ago, Sana came to me and expressed her desire to pursue her education. I spoke to some of the colleges, but a lot of them were not keen. Then I spoke to the principal of St Joseph’s College, and he was open to the idea. After that we had a lot of correspondence. I have a very cordial relationship with the college for the past two to three years, as I have been giving lectures in the college on gender equality and gender discrimination for their course, IGNITORS, which is a platform for students to understand social issues surrounding our society.”
She says, “Finally, Sana started attending classes from August 3. This is the first time that a transgender has got admission into a college. She was initially skeptical as she was worried whether she would be accepted by the other students. To our surprise, she was welcomed by all the students with open arms. They were very supportive.”