Meet Manobi Bandyopadhyay India’s first Transgender College Principal

Manobi Bandyopadhyay

Manobi Bandyopadhyay Source ABP News

Manobi Bandyopadhyay’s appointment is making sensationalist headlines globally as she becomes India’s first transgender principal, but the real news is how she got to this point.

Born before transsexuality was understood or accepted into a family that still rejects her, life was hard. It’s an all too familiar transgender narrative, but she didn’t just persevere she thrived, eventually earning a doctorate degree. Manobi Bandyopadhyay has been an Associate professor at Vivekananda Satobarshiki Mahavidyalaya Manikpara, West Bengal, India since March 1995 preparing her for her next challenge.

How this all came about.

Manobi told the Guardian in 2009 a week after homosexuality was decriminalized “I was a woman at home but once out on the streets I had to wear trousers and shirts and behave like a man. It was tragic and humiliating, but I had no option. Deep inside, I knew I had to do something which meant that continuing my studies was important. So I studied and I studied hard. School and college mates teased me and thought I was a homosexual but, by then, I had got used to taunts.”

“In 2003, I gathered the courage to undergo a sex change operation and it cost me a fortune, around five lakhs (£8,000) which I am told is far less than the cost of such surgery in the West. It was a long process with arduous counselling sessions as a prelude, but somehow it worked. I was free to wear a saree.”

I have faced a lot. I was drugged and raped when I was out of school, someone once tried to set fire to our apartment, I have been singled out in college and asked to do election duty with men in remote villages and, finally, I was beaten up by eunuchs at a rally by a non-government organisation when I said things they did not want to hear.

The world wanted me to be in a circus, but I have defied them all and even written a novel on eunuchs, Endless Bondage, which has been a bestseller. In between all these crises that have turned up, I managed to get my doctorate though I have been denied a promotion to which I am legally entitled. I am fighting, and I shall keep at it.

India has since inexplicably re-criminalized homosexuality, but they have also allowed transgender people a shard of legitimacy as a third gender. Previously transgender people in India were an enigma secreting themselves away as a defense from the world’s cruelty. That culture still survives out of necessity, but hopefully with Manobi’s appointment India’s transgender community can feel empowered enough and safe enough to take one more step out of the closet.

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Kelli Busey an outspoken gonzo style journalist has been writing since 2007. In 2008, she brought the Dallas Advocate on-line and has articles published by the Reconciling Ministries Network, The Transsexual Menace, The Daily Kos, Frock Magazine the TransAdvocate, the Dallas Voice and The Advocate. Kelli, an avid runner is editor in chief at Planet Transgender which she founded in 2007.

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