In an initiative to empower the third gender, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has announced that transgender students can now study any programme offered by the university free of cost. Students who want to avail this facility will have to produce an identity proof and they are eligible for all programmes offered by the university.
This praiseworthy initiative was announced by Vice Chancellor Ravindra Kumar during the 22nd Prof G Ram Reddy Lecture.
“The competent authority is pleased to approve fee exemption in all programmes for transgender candidates. Any certificate issued by the central/state government/medical officer/any other competent authority/ Aadhaar card, etc may be sought for the purpose,” the university said in a notification on June 29, signed by the Registrar of the Student Registration Division.
According to Indian Express reports, IGNOU vice-chancellor RavindraKumar said the documented proof was being asked for only to keep away impostors. “There is a possibility that after hearing of the fee waiver, some people will declare themselves transgender. What mechanism will we have to check this? That’s why we’re asking for some proof to ascertain their gender,” he said.
It is to be noted the university had introduced the category of the ‘other’ gender category in their admission forms in 2012 — before transgenders were officially recognised as the third gender by the Supreme Court in 2014. In April 2014, the Apex Court created the “third gender” status for transgenders in India. A bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri granted legal recognition to transgenders or eunuchs as “third gender” and directed the central government and states to treat them as socially and educationally backwards classes for the purposes of reservation in admission to education and jobs.