India Just Got Its First Transgender College Principal

“Manabi is a fine human being, a good academician and an able administrator. We are hopeful her appointment will empower other members of the transgender community.”

Manabi Bandopadhyay has been appointed the principal of Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal, making her the first transgender principal in India.

Manabi Bandopadhyay has been appointed the principal of Krishnagar Women's College in West Bengal, making her the first transgender principal in India.

Manabi Bandopadhyay is currently an associate professor in Bengali at Vivekananda Satobarshiki Mahavidyalaya, and will make the shift on June 9.

“This decision was taken by the College Service Commission. I don’t interfere in their decisions. They are aware of our open mind. I am happy with this decision,” state education minister Partha Chatterjee said in a Times of India report.

Manabi was born as Somnath, and underwent a sex change operation in 2003, which is when she adopted the name Manabi which in Bengali means “woman”.

She currently lives with her adopted son Debashish Manabiputro, and has even written a best selling novel called Endless Bondage.

Krishnanagar Women’s College authorities have reportedly said that they needed “a principal with a strong personality to run the college, and hence they went ahead with this decision.”

Deshakalyan Chowdhury / Getty Images

Rattan Lal Hangloo, vice-chancellor of the Kalyani University to which Krishnagar Women’s College is affiliated, said, “Manabi is a fine human being, a good academician and an able administrator. We are hopeful her appointment will empower other members of the transgender community.”

TOI reports that colleagues and students are extremely excited about the decision. “Manabi Bandopadhyay is a strong individual. She has faced many upheavals. We are optimistic about the development of the college during her tenure… Her sexual orientation isn’t an issue for us,” said Jayasree Mondal, an assistant professor.

“Even today parents think that this is a mental health issue. A few days back, a boy from Burdwan committed suicide when he couldn’t stand the pressure from his parents, who wanted him to take psychiatric help because he was a transgender,” Manabi said.

While sex realignment surgery is a dream for many, very few can afford it. “I have come across boys who don’t have support from their parents and cannot get operated upon without their consent. They resort to birth control pills, hoping that the high oestrogen will help them feel like women. But they don’t realise that these pills will cause more harm than good,” she added.

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