A transgender rights activist’s relentless effort and determination has paved way for a phenomenal change in the campus of Panjab University.
Inching closer towards inclusivity, authorities at the Chandigarh-based university are constructing separate toilets for transgender students on campus.
Dhananjay Mangalmukhi, currently a Masters student pursuing human rights and duties in the university, has been demanding to have separate washrooms for transgender students since 2014.
With PU’s move to introduce the third gender column in their admission forms in 2015, she tried negotiating with the administrative authorities about separate washrooms.
According to Gaylaxy magazine, the University informed Dhananjay that if any transgender student takes admission in the institution, they would indeed proceed with the request. In 2016 when Dhananjay joined the same university as a student, she actively took up the cause and wrote an application for a separate washroom to the authorities.
Her persistence was met with fruition almost after an entire year. The application was given a heads up by PU and a budget of ₹23 lakhs allocated for the setup, making itself the first university in the country to do so. Construction of the washroom began earlier this month.
The first transgender student in the university, Dhananjay initially found it difficult moving around the campus, not without being subjected to glances and stares by other students.
“When I was young, I could never avail any rights that every human being is entitled to have,” she says. “But I wanted this to change. My hard work and struggle is for the coming generations, who I hope will have a better and dignified status in the society, without the fear of being subjected to stigma or discrimination.”
“When PU said that they’d make the toilets if they have a transgender student, I decided to enroll myself, at the age of 46,” she adds.
The move by the university followed soon after the Centre’s green light for a bill that grants people from the transgender community the choice of using any public toilet facilities.
After her advocacy for the toilets finding some visible action, Dhananjay now plans on taking her struggle a step above. With the support of other students she has garnered over time, she intends to continue her fight with a claim for separate hostel and remittance of tuition fees for transgender students.