From Kumbh To Kitaab: First Dedicated University For Transgenders Is Coming Up In This State

From Kumbh To Kitaab: First Dedicated University For Transgenders Is Coming Up In This StateTransgender ‘Kinnar Akhara’ members in Prayagraj. (Satyam Shrivastav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • This will be a great step towards ending the marginalisation of transgenders.

The first school for transgenders will be set up in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district. The aim of the school is to provide education to members of the transgender community to end their marginalisation.

Vidyalaya and Vishwavidyala — school and university — will fall under the same umbrella.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the foundation for the school was laid last week in the presence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Ramapati Ram Tripathi.

Dr Krishna Mohan Kumar Mishra, chairman Akhil Bhartiya Kinnar Shiksha Sewa Trust, the organisation behind the cause and initiative, told Swarajya that the school will be a stepping stone towards building a platform for higher education for transgenders.

He said, "prathmik shiksha se le kar PhD tak yahan transgender ko parhne ki suvidha hogi (members of the transgender community will get primary education, and can study up to the post graduate and PhD level)."

Mishra, a resident of Kushinagar, wanted the school to be established in "Bhagwan Buddh ki bhoomi." He says that the doors of the school and the university are open for transgenders not just from India, but from all over the world.

Kushinagar is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists, and attracts pilgrims from the world over for the Mahaparinirvana Stupa, which is known and revered as the site where Buddha attained Mahapranirvana.

Two children who have been brought up by the community will get admission in the school in the beginning of 2020. Voluntary inclusion of transgender children from families will be encouraged.

According to Mishra, Uttar Pradesh government is providing the support needed for propelling the initiative.

According to the 2011 Census, the total population of transgenders in India was around 4.88 lakh. Uttar Pradesh tops in numbers as the home to the highest population of transgenders at 137,465. Mishra believes that the school will go on to serve the transgender population of the state in many aspects towards making them part of India of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam's dreams.

Mishra expects the school will provide a beginning towards establishing an opportunity for those transgenders, who seek to give their lives more meaning through education.

He adds, "it is seen that transgender kids have to often face humiliation at schools. They need to find the right environment to get education. Unka laalan paalan achche se hona chahiye unhe mukhya dhara mein laane ke liye (they need to be brought up well to be part of the mainstream."

Among the transgenders he is in touch with through his work and "door to door teaching" of members of the community, there are many who want to go for degrees. This came as an encouraging sign for Mishra.

According to Mishra, students who want to hone their dance and music skills will be provided formal education. This will keep them rooted to tradition, to their inclination towards dance and music, and provide them a stage — the dais to share their narrative.

This indeed will be a great step towards ending the marginalisation of transgenders in the culture milieu outside of Sanatan Dharm, which has accepted and celebrated diversity of gender.

He adds, "most of them have shown the willingness towards acquiring education to be able to be a part of the society in a bigger way. They can continue leading the lives they lead, as per their choice, but at the same time they must get an opportunity to study, to educate themselves and gain knowledge."

Mishra makes a hard hitting observation. According to him, the society at large does not care for the transgender community beyond its own need — of their presence for celebrating occasions.

He adds, "transgenders have bigger strengths than the other two genders. They have a confluence of the energies and strengths. Transgender people need to realise and show their strengths in the different fields towards nation building, let me say it here, all fields including the war front. It is possible only through education."

Thousands of visitors turned up at the Kumbh held in Prayagraj in the beginning of this year to seek blessings from members of the Kinnar Akhada.

Mahamandaleshwar of the Kinnar Akhara, Laxmi Narain Tripathi has welcomed the move. The initiative is in harmony with Tripathi's own vision of taking the community to its Sanatan roots through education and making transgender individuals self reliant.

With Uttar Pradesh showing sprouts of inclination to educate the valued members of the community, a ground for a bigger cultural change has taken place once again in the state.

From Kumbh to kitaab, the step of a school for transgenders in Uttar Pradesh could be taken as a meaningful walking of the talk towards curbing gender based marginalisation.

Sumati Mehrishi is Senior Editor, Swarajya. She tweets at @sumati_mehrishi 


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