Deepa Soman

…says Anu Bose, who recently won a legal case to write the exam as a transgender

Kochi-based Anu Bose was an excellent student at school and college. She completed her M.Sc from a science and technology institute in 2007 and had also been working with various colleges as an assistant professor, till 2016. A transwoman, Anu had to however give up her job as she couldn’t bear the discrimination from fellow women faculty in private-sector colleges. When she learnt that the public-sector also discriminates strongly against transpeople, the Maths teacher decided to do what it takes to `solve the problem’. She went to court with the request to allow transpeople to apply for Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) examinations.Anu speaks about the favourable verdict from the court and why the battle is only half won.“In 2015, I had applied for a job via PSC, under male category . At the examination centre, the male teachers would frisk us to ensure there is no malpractice. Also, the exam had separate centres for men and women. Everyone around suspiciously checked me out from head-to-toe, as I was dressed as a woman. I felt very uncomfortable and decided that never again will I allow myself to be in such a situation,“ Anu recalls. She wrote letters to the PSC in June 2016 about this, but didn’t get a reply . She went to the PSC office again in August to ask what she can do in the current scenario. “They asked me to give a complaint in writing and I did.The response, which I got in September last year, was extremely frustrating. Apparently , to let me write the exam, there should be an amendment in the PSC rules which had only `man’ and `woman’ categories. As an Indian citizen, I felt that it’s a violation of my fundamental rights,“ says Anu.

On her behalf, trans-activist Vijayaraja Mallika had approached the Social Justice Department in October 2016, but was advised to wait till PSC amends the rules. She was later introduced to a lawyer, Sandhya Raju, in October 2017, and that’s when she moved the court. “I tried my best to not take legal action as I don’t have the required financial support. However, as there was no other option, I had to do it,“ says Anu, who stays with her mom and brother.

She started her sexual realignment process in 2015 and got her legal identity changed, last year. “I had a tough time finding money for my surgery without a job and financial assistance. Even my medical insurance didn’t come to my aid, as I am neither male nor female. They say they don’t cover transgenders. Apparently , the sex change surgery comes under cosmetic section,“ she says.

In an interim order, the court said that she can apply for PSC by choosing female as her gender, but Anu can’t apply for jobs yet. “PSC is yet to update my gender on its online profile, which was previously given as male. They say they have not received the order yet. I have to wait till it is changed,“ she says.

The Maths scholar doesn’t blame the public-sector unit entirely for the issue. “We are not given consideration anywhere.Even if they provide transgender as a column for exams, we will have issues as we don’t even have separate toilets in examination centres. I usually go for exams in an auto, spending `300 to `400, as people misbehave with us in buses and public transport. This is something faced solely by the transgenders here,“ she says.

As per the interim court order, Anu is the only transgender eligible to apply for the exam, as of now.Her advocate Sandhya Raju says, “Once the final order comes, probably in two or three months’ time, all transpeople should be able to apply for PSC jobs. They should increasingly bank on this opening and make the best use of it as a community .“