An educator was evicted from a school for looking different, another has moved court for not finding representation in the seat allotment for medical colleges. Two trans women separated by cities discuss the burden of their gender
Dr Praachi Rathore is one among two trans women, including Dr Ruth John Paul Koyyala, to have bagged a government job in Hyderabad; (right) Jane Kaushik, a teacher from Delhi was forced to resign from a UP-based private school, allegedly for revealing her transgender identity
Jane Kaushik and Dr Praachi Rathore are both 29. But that’s not the only thing the two have in common. Delhi-based Kaushik and Hyderabad resident Rathore identify as trans women, and have experienced discrimination and disappointments through their lives. While Rathore’s “hellish” journey has finally borne fruit with her recent appointment as the chief medical officer at Hyderabad’s state-run Osmania General Hospital, Kaushik was forced to resign from her teaching job at a school in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on December 3, after her identity was revealed. The institution, however, blamed it on her “incompetency at work”.
The matter was taken up for investigation after the National Commission for Women (NCW) took suo motu cognisance of Kaushik’s situation and demanded the UP chief secretary Durga Shanker Mishra to form a team and probe the matter. The report is awaited.
“After four rounds of interviews and demo sessions, the private school in Mohammadi area of Kheri appointed me to teach english and social science to Class IX students,” Kaushik tells us over a phone call. “I got the letter on November 22 and because I had to relocate from Delhi, I reported for duty on
On the day of her joining, the school noticed that the name on her education documents was different from the name she has now. “I transitioned in 2019. While I have all the required government and medical certificates to make my case, the school asked me to keep my identity under wraps. I agreed,” she says.
But nothing seemed normal after that. “I was treated like an alien. Many hadn’t seen such a tall lady with broad shoulders... students called me hijra,” she says.
On December 2, things went out of control. She was denied a phone charger by three staff members, when she forgot hers back in the hostel accommodation provided by the school. “Later, a teacher enquired with a female student how I behave with the girls in the hostel. That was it. I broke down. I took up the matter with the administration. I was then told that since I had revealed my identity in school, I should resign. But I hadn’t disclosed it. I begged and pleaded for my job, but I was asked to vacate the hostel immediately,” Kaushik recalls. She says that since there was no night train to Delhi, she had to take a bus. “I was alone and overwhelmed. There was no other female passenger in the bus.”
At the time, Kaushik says she “cursed myself for being a trans woman”. But not one to resign to her fate, she reached out to the Delhi Commission for Women and lodged a complaint. “A local police officer was sent to the school. I then got a show cause letter from the institution stating that it was my incompetency in teaching social science that led to my eviction. Had they not figured out my competency during those four rounds of interviews?” she asks. Kaushik has also started a petition on Change.org where she makes four demands—that the school reinstates her, the administration sensitises their staff and students about rights of transgender people, the setting up of a proper complaint mechanism that supports transgender teachers and children on campus, and that she be issued an unconditional apology. The petition has received over 4,800 signatures. Dr Praachi Rathore, who hails from the Banjara community of Adilabad in Telengana, feels that the “lack of sensitisation and gender inclusion in the society” has made it challenging for many queer persons, including Kaushik and her, to negotiate professional and personal lives. After years of staying in the closet, Rathore says she found the courage to come out.
“I realised I was different in Class IV or V. I was biologically like my father and brother, but my soul identified with my mother. That was a problem for all. I was teased and called names, and my family was dealing with this pressure too. I was then sent to boarding school, which was the worst time of my life. I was uncomfortable sharing rooms and bathrooms with male students. Books became my only friend,” says Rathore, who remembers attempting to take her life in Class XII. She got through MBBS in the first attempt and secured a seat in a government college in Telengana. “I revealed my true identity during the freshers party in 2009 and wore a saree. Finally, in 2017-2018, I got my transition done after completing my MBBS,” she says.
Rathore previously worked at a private hospital, where she hid her identity, dressing up as a man. The discrimination was noticeable. “I then became a medical officer at Mitr Clinic in Hyderabad, which is a chain of India’s first transgender clinics,” she adds. Last month, she bagged a government job at the Osmania General Hospital.
She has now filed a petition in the Hyderabad high court demanding the right to pursue higher education as a transgender. Last year, Rathore got through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, for admission to medical colleges for higher education. “I had applied in the transgender category, but when my name appeared in the lists of different colleges, it was either in the female category or both male and female. There was no ‘other’ category then. But I am neither of those two genders,” she says, adding, “We have put ‘other’ and ‘transgender’ as mere categories on forms and certificates. At the execution stage and when exercising these rights on ground, the reality is different. I want to change that.”