Manabi Bandopadhyay Is India's First Transgender Principal, And She Marks A Step Forward For LGBT Rights
Not long after Padmini Prakash became the country's first transgender news anchor, India has seen a new step forward for the LGBT community with Manabi Bandopadhyay, India's first transgender school principal. Currently an associate professor at Vivekananda Satobarshiki Mahavidyalaya, a college in West Bengal, Manabi is set to take charge of Krishnagar Women’s College on June 9, according to BuzzFeed India. Officials from the college reportedly said that they felt they needed a "strong personality" to run the school, and Manabi was the perfect choice. Although State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told the The Times of India that he is "happy with this decision," academia has not always been welcoming to Manabi. After her gender reassignment surgery in 2003, people suddenly started worrying about which bathroom she would use at work and concerning themselves with her appearance.
"People who before threw words like ‘woman,’ ‘girl’ at me as if they were insults suddenly seemed to be convinced that I was a man. And that I should behave and dress likewise," she told The Indian Express. Despite sometimes-violent opposition, however, she remained steadfast and received her doctorate in Bengali. She has even written a bestselling novel, Endless Bondage, as well as running a magazine focusing on transgender issues and maintains a huge following on social media, according to the Hindustan Times.
According to The Times of India, both students and faculty at Krishnagar Women's College are eagerly anticipating Manabi's appointment, with one professor stating that she is a "strong individual," and her gender identity "isn't an issue." On the other hand, although India's Supreme Court declared the transgender community a legal third gender last year, Manabi made sure to point out that transgender rights still have a long way to go. Many still believe that it is the result of mental health problems, and gender reassignment surgery is still unthinkably expensive for the majority of people who are transgender in India.
Despite the obstacles she will inevitably face, there has been a torrent of support on social media.
Even if she does encounter opposition, Manabi will no doubt persevere. As she told The Guardian in 2009, "I am fighting, and I shall keep at it."
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