Kolkata, June 9: India's first transgender college principal Manabi Bandopadhyay today took charge of her new responsibility in Krishnagar Women's College in West Bengal's Nadia district.
With chocolates and sweets, students and teachers of the college welcomed her as the new principal. "I have reached this position on the strength of my ability to pass through interview done by the College Service Commission.
The appointment has nothing to do with me being a man, woman or from the third sex," 50-year-old Bandopadhyay told PTI. Neither did her gender identity come as a roadblock in her career, nor was it a plus point, she said hoping that others from her community would also gradually excel in professional fields.
During her selection process, she had signed a form as belonging to the 'third sex'. The college which offers undergraduate courses in various streams is affiliated to Kalyani University.
Vice-chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo welcomed her saying he was proud of her. "Her appointment will empower and inspire others from the community. It also establishes that everybody, irrespective of their gender, is equal before the law," he said.
Hangloo appreciated her teaching abilities and described her as a very fine administrator who is eminently suited for the job of a principal. Manabi used to teach Bengali at the Vivekananda Satavarshiki Mahavidyalaya in West Midnapore district before taking up her new assignment.
Born as Somnath, to a traditional middle class Bengali family in Naihati, in the suburbs of Kolkata, Bandopadhyay had decided to undergo a sex-change operation a decade ago after being convinced that she was a woman born in a man's body. She has also an adopted son named Debasish.
In 2013, she was one of the participants of 'Bigg Boss Bangla', the Bengali version of the hit reality TV show 'Bigg Boss'.
The Supreme Court had ruled last year that the transgender community must be recognised as the third sex in all government documents and even get reservation under OBC.
Activists working on equal rights for the transgender community welcomed Manabi's appointment but lamented that much more needs to be done to empower the third sex. "Her success is commendable but it is an individual success.
We want hundreds and thousands of people from the transgender community to become doctors, teachers, lawyers and even judges.
But that is not happening," Pawan Dhall of NGO SAATHI which works for LGBT community said. The West Bengal government has already announced formation of a transgender development board which will have Manabi has its vice chairman.