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Meet Manabi, India’s first Transgender College Principal

Manabi will become the first transgender Principal of a college in India, and in all probability, the world.

Updated
India
2 min read
Manabi, formerly known as Somnath Banerjee in 2006. (Photo: Reuters)

In a progressive and welcome move, India, and probably the world, will get her first transgender college principal.

Manabi Banerjee will head the Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal, said Dipak K. Kar, chairman of an education panel that selects college principals in the state.

I am excited, but the media attention has left me in a tizzy. I have been flooded with calls. I understand that my achievement is a big step forward for the transgender movement in the country, but my priority is my students.
— Manabi to Indian Express.

Manabi in 2006. (Photo: Reuters)
Manabi in 2006. (Photo: Reuters)

Banerjee is expected to start her new job on June 9, Kar said.

She has been teaching in a college for more than 20 years, and had the necessary administrative experience. She was chosen through the usual selection process.
— Dipak K. Kar.

Manabi was called Somnath before she transitioned. She underwent a gender-realignment surgery in 2003, reports The Indian Express.

India’s transgender activists hailed the appointment as a proud day for the community which has been systematically discriminated against.

“This is a proud moment for us. It’s great that people have begun accepting transgenders. Everybody should feel proud about this decision,” said Rudrani Chettri, Director, Mitr Trust, a group working for transgender rights.

Last year, the Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a legal third gender, granting them minority rights and access to education, employment and health benefits. Since then, some colleges have offered a choice in indicating their gender in application forms.

Krishnagar Women’s College offers undergraduate courses in the sciences and humanities. It is located in Krishnanagar, a town about 105 kilometers north of Kolkata, West Bengal.

(With inputs from news agencies)

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