Adhithika, a 19-year-old first-year student enrolled in B.Sc. Visual Communication at The American College, is not just pursuing an education; she’s breaking down stereotypes and embracing her authentic self as a transwoman. Her inspirational journey, from adversity to acceptance, stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and inclusivity. This incredible narrative is underscored by the efforts of activists like Priya Babu, the Director of the Transgender Resource Centre.
Adhithika’s story is one of resilience and hope, as she transitioned from being ridiculed and ostracized to becoming an aspiring film director. Before her gender affirmation surgery, she was even forced to discontinue her studies and resort to begging for survival. Her parents’ unwavering support and counseling paved the way for her remarkable transformation.
“Counseling helped, and also the fact that people on the campus accept me for what I am, a transwoman, has made my life easier,” said Adhithika, the aspiring filmmaker. “This is what inclusivity is all about, and it is this inclusivity that we are aspiring for.”
Speaking at a lecture on Gender Inclusivity organized by the Department of Visual Communication at The American College, Priya Babu shared her insights on the importance of creating welcoming environments for transgender individuals within educational institutions. Babu stressed that many transgender individuals begin their transition during their late teens, making high school and college years particularly challenging due to societal prejudices.
Priya Babu, who has been at the forefront of advocating for transgender rights, emphasized the need to shift societal perceptions and promote acceptance of those undergoing transition. As a dedicated transgender activist in Tamil Nadu, her journey began in grassroots activism, eventually becoming a formidable advocate for the transgender community. Returning to her home state in 2001, she volunteered with NGOs, laying the foundation for her impactful work.
In 2004, Priya joined forces with advocate Rajni to file a groundbreaking petition in the Chennai High Court, advocating for voting rights for transgender individuals. She furthered her cause through writing, forming a transgender theater group, and in 2017, establishing India’s first Transgender Resource Centre in Madurai, offering support, knowledge, and refuge. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the center played a crucial role in aiding transgender people facing dire economic circumstances. Priya’s dedication continues to shine as a beacon of hope for the transgender community.
She called upon educational institutions not merely to tolerate but actively support transgender students by establishing mid-management teams that facilitate access to vital resources such as scholarships and free bus passes.
Furthermore, Babu urged institutions to incorporate transgender studies into their academic curriculum to raise awareness and understanding of transgender issues among all students. As transgender identities continue to gain acceptance in society, Babu highlighted the pivotal role that educational institutions play in providing opportunities for transgender individuals to pursue education and gain essential life skills.
“The American College campus provides a conducive environment for gender-inclusive development,” stated Babu, emphasizing the importance of inclusive spaces where discrimination is not tolerated.
In conclusion, Adhithika’s journey and Priya Babu’s advocacy underscore the transformative potential of educational institutions in gender inclusivity. By creating safe and supportive environments, offering financial assistance, and integrating transgender studies into their curriculum, educational institutions can empower transgender students to pursue their aspirations and contribute to a more inclusive society. These initiatives are pivotal in bridging gender gaps, promoting essential life skills, and encouraging open communication, ultimately paving the way for a more accepting world for everyone.