It takes determination and courage to pursue education at 32, and even more so to proudly identify yourself as a transgender. But Sridevi wants no flowery accolades; just her fundamental right to an education. “Students should not be afraid to identify themselves as the third gender to get an education,” said the Parel resident who has become the first officially recorded transgender student at the University of Mumbai. She added, “I was not sure if I could study under the immense social pressure, but chose to enrol in distance education as I did not want to miss out on education.”
Bullying and stigma forced her to discontinue studies twice — once after she failed Class 12; and later when she dropped out of a diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology (DMLT). She persevered and completed a diploma in interior designing. When UGC directed universities and colleges to treat transgenders as the third gender in 2015, she saw an opportunity to get a degree.
Sridevi is now pursuing a BA in Psychology through the Institute of Distance and Open learning (IDOL). She is not pursuing this course to become a research psychologist or counsellor, but for the sheer curiosity of understanding cognitive function and understand how society works.
Sridevi knew she was a woman trapped in a man’s body since she was a child. Since then, she has lived as a woman. She now hopes that more students will be open about their sexual identity and pursue an education.
“Nobody and nothing can stop any student of any gender from getting an education,” she says. “It’s a fundamental right and one’s gender identity should not determine whether or not one gets it.”
Sridevi was forced to discontinue studies twice due to incessant bullying
- She failed Class 12 once
- She could not complete a diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology
- However, not one to give up, she got a diploma in interior designing
- Now, she is pursuing BA in Psychology from Mumbai University
The Third Gender
In 2014, the UGC directed universities and colleges to treat transgenders as the third gender for scholarship schemes and programmes following which the University of Mumbai introduced an option in the form from 2015-16.
Sridevi is the first person to officially identify herself as a transgender while enrolling in Mumbai University.