Chennai: Transgender wins battle for higher education

Published Dec 6, 2017, 1:38 am IST
Updated Dec 6, 2017, 1:38 am IST
Tharika was even asked to vacate her house before her board exams by her house owner due to objection by neighbours.
S. Tharika Banu
 S. Tharika Banu

Chennai: S. Tharika Banu, the first transgender candidate from Tamil Nadu to clear 12 state board exams this year, has set a benchmark in the history of the state as her continuous efforts have borne fruit. She has been taken into Government Siddha College after Madras high court directed the government to grant her admission in Bachelor of Siddha Medicine and Surgery (BSMS) course.

Even after the apex court gave the right to self-identification of gender as male, female or third-gender for the transgender community on April 15, 2014, seeking education or employment is not an easy task for them.


Hailing from Thoothukudi district, Tharika was denied admission in schools giving various excuses for being denied admission, from the unavailability of course to objection by other students. “I was recommended to study in a co-education school far away from the city and was not allowed to get admission in a girls’ school. After continuous protest and intervention of district education officer, the school authorities agreed,” Tharika said.

Grace Banu, Tharika’s mother, who has adopted and raised her had to give an assurance letter to the school stating that it was her responsibility if any girl at school objected to studying with Tharika.

However, the school denied taking the responsibility of any troubles to Tharika at the school.

Tharika was even asked to vacate her house before her board exams by her house owner due to objection by neighbours. Though Tharika had a dream to be a doctor, her mother could not afford to provide her study material to prepare for Neet.

When Tharika applied at Siddha Government College, she was not called for counseling as she had scored only 45.25 per cent of marks as against the minimum requirement of 50 per cent in plus-2 examinations.

Though the transgender community faces various hurdles of sexual harassment, denial of civil rights, violence and disrespect at all fronts of life, the government does not have any reservations for the third gender to provide them education and employment opportunities.

“Later Madras high court directed the college to give me admission stating that transgender persons claim a seat in an educational institution only in rare incidences. My application was considered only after the court said that the minimum mark of 50 per cent prescribed for admission into BSMS is only applicable to male and female genders and not for the third gender,” Tharika said.

After the petition filed by Tharika, Madras high court directed the state government to frame guidelines to reservation for the transgender community in government services within four months.

‘We have not received proper recognition till day and have to struggle at every step to receive the equal treatment as other sections of the society. Though we do not fear to fight, we expect equal treatment and encouragement,” Tharika said.