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Transgender Teacher Asked If Breasts Are Real in Kolkata School Interview

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Jun 19, 2018

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A transgender teacher from Kolkata was asked if her breasts are real while she was interviewing for a position at a school, The Indian Express reports. A male principal at a Kolkata school also asked if she was capable of giving birth.

It remains unclear how either of these factors could affect a person’s ability to teach. Suchitra Dey, the teacher in question, has two Masters degrees in Geography and English, as well as 10 years of experience — but these qualifications weren’t enough. “One of the interviewers at a well-known Kolkata school asked me to wear male outfits because all my mark sheets and certificates say that I am a man,” she told The Indian Express.

On June 11, Dey wrote to the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) to file a complaint. “I couldn’t handle the humiliation anymore,” she said. “The things I have been asked by authorities at ‘reputed’ schools of Kolkata shows the kind of mindset people still hold about our community.”

“If someone like me, who is educated and experienced, has to face this then imagine the plight of those who don’t have the opportunity to go to school, or the ones who have been ostracised,” she continued.

A representative for WBHRC told The Indian Express that all petitions are brought before the Supreme Court, which may pass an order in response. “We can only implement the order,” said the representative. “Later, if an inquiry is required, we will follow the necessary process and a letter will be sent back to the complainant about the course of action.”

In 2014, the Supreme Court formally recognized the rights of transgender Indians, stating they should be accepted to educational institutions and employment without discrimination. But there have been a string of transphobic events this year, suggesting that national attitudes have yet to catch up. Protections for trans employees could nonetheless be ensured by a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, which India does not have.

If such a law passed, it would guarantee real consequences for employers and educators who discriminate against trans people in the workplace and at educational institutions. Incidents like this one only further cement India’s desperate need need for it.

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Written By Urvija Banerji

Urvija Banerji is the Features Editor at The Swaddle, and has previously written for Rolling Stone India and Atlas Obscura. When she’s not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, painting, cooking, picking fights online, and consuming large amounts of coffee (often concurrently).

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