Jan 052017

Dec. 30, 2016

Transgender school in Kochi, Kerala is the first of its kind.

Saraj International opened its doors on Friday and aims to help transgender adults aged 25 to 50 who have dropped out of school to finish their education.

There are currently six students enrolled in the school and the school hopes to admit a total of 10.

The teachers and trainers at the school are also trans.

State of Kerala

The state of Kerala was the first in India to adopt a transgender policy against discrimination and government hospitals here also offer free gender reassignment surgery.

Although Kerala is very open, trans students still face discrimination from family and friends, which leads to the high number of dropouts.

The school is headed by Vijayraja Mallika and she says: ‘Kerala has some 25,000 transgenders, and 57% of them were forced to drop out of school due to stigma.’

With plans on future growth and allowing more trans people to have similar opportunities to an education, Mallika said: ‘This is a model centre. Once proved successful, we will expand the facilities and admit more people, from across India.’

The founder of the school, trans activist Kalki Subramaniam said: ‘This day is historic for me.’

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that India’s estimated two million transgender people have equal rights under the law.

While the law allows transgender people to marry, inherit property and fill quotas in jobs and educational institutions, discrimination is still common.

Goal of Education

“Education brings the path to the beautiful life, because transgender people like me, we are abandoned by our families. Most of our biological parents  don’t accept us and because of this reason most of us are left on the street and forced to beg and do sex work. This has to change if we have to change the destiny of those people who were abandoned by their families and who had lost opportunity to get educated,” Kalki said.

Small Beginnings

“The school will initially start with 10 students including a migrant and a differently abled transgender. There will be a pool of 60 trainers which includes teachers, social workers, doctors and engineers to support the educationally disadvantaged to strengthen their community’s social status,” said Vijayaraja Malika, the driving force behind this pioneering institution.

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