As the ongoing debate on how transgender persons should dress intensifies, a 21- year-old student on the southern outskirts of Kolkata has set out to ensure there are separate public washrooms for the community.
Four public toilets in Bansdroni have created a separate space for transgender people, thanks to the efforts of Sobhan Mukherjee, who actively followed LGBTQI issues in college.
Apart from the regular ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ signs, these four washrooms in ward 112, have another room marked ‘Tridhara’, signifying transgender persons with their internationally accepted symbol.
As Sobhan dug deeper into the problems faced by the community, he found that the unavailability of separate toilets was a major obstacle. So he approached the ward councillor, Anita Kar Majumdar, with his proposal, who readily gave him the permission to create separate signage for the washrooms and put them up.
“I wanted to contribute in my small way towards making life easier for the community. I am thankful to the councillor, who understood the issue,” Sobhan told TOI.
Praising the 21-year-old’s efforts, Kar Majumdar said, “Hats off to him for coming up with such socially responsible ideas, which none of us even think of. So far, no one has created a problem for earmarking toilets for the third gender. If someone does so in the future, I will personally intervene and see to it that there is no hindrance to this project.”
According to the TOI report, despite the Union sanitation ministry issuing a guideline about usage of washrooms by transgender persons of their own choice, a majority of them report harassment and hostility by the public and security personnel at the toilets.
Of the four toilets, two of the public toilet complexes are adjacent to Masterda Surya Sen and Geetanjali Metro Station. The total number of public toilet complexes are five. Since one of the blocks has only two washrooms, the councillor couldn’t accommodate the third gender.
Overjoyed at the exemplary step, members of the LBGTQI community in the city showered adulation on Sobhan, for he is neither an activist, nor a member of the community himself.
Transgender activist Ranjita Sinha, a member of the West Bengal Transgender Board who has had numerous discussions with the government representatives on having separate units for the community in public toilets, said, “Sobhan is not even an activist, so when he broached the topic, I wondered how serious he was. But I was amazed by his initiative, and the fact that he even coined a perfect word for the community. This initiative should be replicated at all public toilets, including at busy places like Nandan and shopping malls.”
Connect to Sobhan Mukherjee to show him your support here.