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Third gender option in varsity forms

Abheena Aher’s graduation and post-graduation certificates refer to her as a ‘male’. The 35-year-old transgender activist, who completed her post-graduation in Mumbai, didn’t have a choice. “Admission forms of all institutions only had a male and female option for the sex of a candidate. None recognised the ‘third’ gender, said Aher.\n

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11th June 2012 15:06

Alessia Valenza

However, from July, application forms for distance-learning programmes at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will include the option ‘other’ along with ‘male’ and ‘female’.

“More than 40% of India’s transgender population is literate. They are forced to give up their education mid-way for reasons such as social stigma and migration,” said Aher. “Those who have completed their education have been forced to study under the guise of being a male.”

According to Pankaj Khare, registrar (student registration division), IGNOU, some students approached them last year with a request that they did not want to disclose their gender in application forms. “After discussing the issue with our board members, we decided to make a provision for ‘other’ in application forms to include transgenders and those who do not wish to reveal their gender,” said Khare.

“We hope that all universities across India will adopt this non-discriminatory policy,” said Santosh Joglekar, member of Anam Prem, a Mumbai-based social group working with transgenders.