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No Fear No Favour

Bengal to have all gender toilets now! A curse or a Bliss?

West Bengal Transgender Development Board, a governing body under the guidance of Mamata Government, had recommended setting up separate toilets or modifying existing ones for these students at all the state-run and the state-aided colleges. This move is to increase social acceptance for transgender community among people. Following the recommendation, the state higher education department, in a letter dated June 30, directed all college principals to build separate toilets for the third gender. “I’ve always had trouble using the girls’ toilet. This is a big step. When I took admission, there was no option for the ‘third gender’.

Hence, I had to enrol as a female. However, I plan to enrol for my Masters course as the third gender,” Shalini Ganguly (name changed on request), a student of Bijoy Krishna Girls’ College, said.  A student of Narasinha Dutt College, said, “I had a problem using the boy’s washroom. Sensing our plight, our principal allowed five of us to use the girl’s toilet. It is, indeed, a welcome step to have separate toilets built for us.” Most of the college principals think this move is not going to succeed, as fear among students being identified playing the important factor here. One such principal is Shyamalendu Chatterjee, Chittaranjan College and treasurer of All Bengal Principals’ Council said :- “If a separate toilet is made for such students they would get marked and ragged. Moreover, most of the old colleges like mine do not have space for constructing a separate toilet within the existing facility,” India’s first transgender college principal Manabi Bandopadhyay feels the sensitisation is the need of the hour, and welcome the move made by board.

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