Delhi University will recognise transgender students from 2015

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Delhi University says it will recognise transgender students for the first time next year.

Campaigners have praised the move calling it a step in the right direction.

Transgender students at Delhi have traditionally been forced to register as either male or female, but will able to opt for a third gender option.

A university official said the policy would be extended to undergraduate courses in the next academic year.

University registrar Alka Sharma said: “We had planned to start transgender admissions in undergraduate courses from this year but could not do so due to administrative reasons.

“From 2015-16 academic session, we will be introducing the third gender option in centralised admission forms and also make necessary policies for their admission.

The Times of India reports Anjali Gopalan, of the Naz Foundation, an Indian HIV support group, said: “It a step in the right direction. It really empowers people and makes them feel they are part of mainstream life. But there has to be a sustained campaign to understand transgenders, their issues and sensitise the society.”

She added: “DU has to involve the transgender community itself so that they are not made to feel like outsiders. Some mechanism has to be evolved for sensitization of the university community and also for the protection of the transgenders from harassment for which even the police needs to be involved.”

In April, India’s Supreme issued a landmark verdict creating a new category that allows transgender people to identify themselves as such on official documents.

Before the judgment, transgender Indians had to identify themselves as male or female in all official papers.

All documents will now have a third category marked transgender.

Overall, there are an estimated 3 million transgender people in India.

Unfortunately, India’s Supreme Court has refused to take the same progressive approach on other LGBT issues.

In December last year the court reintroduced Section 377 of India’s penal code banning sex “against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted to mean same-sex sexual activity.

The Supreme Court threw out a 2009 New Delhi High Court decision that ruled the law was unconstitutional.

The Naz Foundation has since appealed to have the decision overturned, but so far with no success.