India’s first transgender college principal, Manabi Bandopadhyay, who has taken charge of her office in Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal, is amazed at the sudden interest of the media in her life’s story.
Bandopadhyay, 50, a professor of philosophy and Bengali hit the headlines last month when she was appointed principal at the women’s college.
“Suddenly after a number of national and international mainstream newspapers wrote about me, you people -Bengali media – have started showing interest in me. I am quite surprised, as I have been an Associate Professor for the last 20 years -which is a great achievement for me being a transgender – and there was no brouhaha in the media. Now why are you showing such interest? Is it because I have become a principal on my own merit?” asked Bandopadhyay.
Bandopadhyay underwent a sex change surgery in 2003 to become a woman. Her two-decade long journey to the top of academia was fraught with jibes and harassment. She called on authorities to do more to support the transgender community.
She had said earlier that her struggle to be recognised as a ‘third gender’ was not easy in the largely-conservative country and urged the government to provide jobs for sexual minorities who often face discrimination and abuse.
Bandopadhyay, who was born under the male name of Somnath and brought up in a village in Nadia district, has been ridiculed in schools and colleges all her life for her effeminate ways.
In April last year, the Supreme Court had recognised transgender as a legal third gender in a landmark ruling and ordered the Central Government to ensure their equal treatment.
The court ruling recognised the community as a marginalised group and directed authorities to implement policies to improve their socio-economic status.