Overcoming a host of legal hurdles, 27-year-old Atri Kar has become the first transgender from West Bengal to appear for the civil services examinations in India.
The school teacher from Hoogly’s Tribeni district is set to take the state-level examination this week, on January 29.
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Atri’s achievement comes after two long years of legal struggles. Though a Supreme Court decision in 2014 made it possible for transgenders to apply for education and employment under the ‘other’ category, the policy has not been implemented everywhere. Atri found herself unable to apply as an ‘other’ for the West Bengal Public Service Commission exam last year.
“After my requests to the WBPSC for including the ‘other’ category did not elicit any response, I decided to take legal recourse,” Atri said in an interview to IANS. She first filed a case against WBPSC in the Calcutta High Court, followed by an appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal, which decided the case in her favour.
Atri also moved court on another occasion, to be allowed to proceed to the second round of the Railway Recruitment Board exam. She appeared for the exam earlier this month.
In 2013 Tamil Nadu’s Swapna, who entered her gender as woman in her form, was reported to be the first Indian transgender to apply for a civil services examination; the first transgender civil servant in India is Odisha’s Aishwarya Rutuparna Pradhan.
Atri juggled court sessions over the last two years, along with her work, incessant travel and hormonal therapy for transformation. She feels that while her struggle may have discouraged some in her community, there are others who may feel emboldened by her achievements.