Jadavpur University (JU) has accepted the proposal to construct a separate toilet for transgender students, teachers, visitors or whoever wants to use it on the campus. It will be put forward to the executive council for its approval.
Though the state government had, in 2016, asked all colleges and universities to set up transgender toilets on campuses after a recommendation from the West Bengal Transgender Board, nothing has materialized in last three years. “Only one college in North 24 Parganas had taken the initiative to construct a toilet for transgenders,” said a source at Bikash Bhavan, the state education secretariat.
According to a JU official, there are several students on the campus who identify themselves with the ‘third-gender’ community. “They may not be comfortable to accept and reveal their gender by submitting documents to the university during admission, but those who wants to use the transgender toilet should be given an option to do so without being ridiculed.”
The plight of ‘third-gender’ students on campus is a big issue, feels Ranjita Sinha, member of the national and state transgender board and also a member of the Association of the Transgender Hijra of Bengal. “In the university, students can’t even feel safe after disclosing their gender identity, even though such disclosure can be done after attaining 18 years. Hence, it is an ongoing struggle. Despite reaching the stage of attending an institute, many are left frustrated and feel stigmatized. In the end, they drop out from the course. Introducing a transgender toilet in JU will be a step forward for the community,” said Sinha.
“The number of transgender students on the campus may vary between 30 and 50. However, many of them may not have officially submitted documents in favour of receiving any reservation. We have demanded to set up transgender toilets at two locations on the campus. We have requested the authorities to keep it open for everyone and there should not be any mention about any particular gender availing the facilities. One location is at the arts faculty and another near the engineering departments,” said Debraj Debnath, general secretary of the arts faculty students’ union.
“The state transgender board had in 2015 urged the state government to set up transgender toilets in higher education institutes. However, nothing could be achieved so far. Hence, if the decision is implemented, it will be a extremely well received,” pointed out Sinha.
A senior JU official confirmed that the proposal will be placed before the council for ratification.
Source: Times of India