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Transgender Teacher Says Kolkata School Principals Asked About Her Breasts, Genitals

A talented and popular teacher who, like many others in her fraternity, is also ambitious and wants to make a successful career, Suchitra’s dreams have hit a roadblock after her recent interviews at some private schools.

Sujit Nath, Prema Rajaram

Updated:June 18, 2018, 9:56 PM IST
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Transgender Teacher Says Kolkata School Principals Asked About Her Breasts, Genitals
Suchitra Dey. (Image: Facebook)
Kolkata: From being Hiranmay Dey to Suchitra — the journey of this Kolkata-based school teacher had been fraught with its usual share of challenges until, as many would presume, she underwent a Sex-Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in 2017 and became a trans-woman. But her real battle seems to have only just begun.

A talented and popular teacher who, like many others in her fraternity, is also ambitious and wants to make a successful career, Suchitra’s dreams have hit a roadblock after her recent interviews at some private schools turned out be a nightmare.

Speaking to News18, she said, “I have done double MA in Geography and English and hold a B.Ed degree. Unfortunately, wherever I have appeared for interviews, my prospective employers asked uncomfortable questions such as why am I like this and why I decided to undergo SRS. They hardly ask any questions about my professional abilities and are more interested in my sex change.”

“In one of interviews at a reputed school, I was shocked when the interviewer asked me whether I can breast feed, whether I can be pregnant and whether or not my breasts are real. I was very offended. Thankfully in the present school where I teach, the staff is very accommodating. I have always felt like a part of their family,” Suchitra narrated.

Faced with humiliation, Suchitra has now shot a complaint letter to the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC), seeking its intervention in the matter.

“I was discriminated at every step for being a trans-woman. Despite the verdict of the apex court, many private schools are still denying me jobs as schoolteacher. I have enough qualifications and 10 years of experience in teaching. During interviews, panel members mock me. They enquired about my genital status. It makes me feel that transgender persons have no scope of career growth. Mindset of educated people has not changed yet. So they are gender biased. I hope you will take necessary disciplinary action against such discrimination and do the needful,” Suchitra’s letter to WBHRC reads.

“If required, I will take legal action,” she added.

In 2014, the Supreme Court had formally recognized transgenders by creating the ‘third gender’ category.

Ranjita, a key member of the newly formed Transgender Development Board in West Bengal, said, “Suchitra is extremely talented but the way she was humiliated was unfortunate. I suggested her to take legal steps. We will discuss the matter soon and decide our next course of action.”

However, principals of some of the schools, who have been named in Suchitra’s complaint, have vehemently denied harassing her in any manner and even denied that any such interview took place at all.

“No interview or any such interaction with prospective teachers have happened in the last 3-4 weeks and no teacher was required in our school. Personally, I cannot recollect any such incident. We don’t have any teacher’s bio data by that name,” said Animesh Dey, Principal, Gurukul Vidyamandir.

“If anyone came forward for a job, we would surely have considered the case. There are many such examples. If Manobi Mukhopadhyay can be a principal, the third gender can also take up jobs of a teacher,” he added.

Suchitra, however, has alleged that Dey asked her uncomfortable questions about her genital status during the interview.

Keya Sinha, principal of National Gems Higher Secondary School, which was also named in Suchitra’s complaint, said she was completely unaware of any such incident having taken place. She confirmed having received an application on e-mail from Hiranmoy Dey in 2016, but asserted that the applicant was never called for any interview.

“I don’t recollect any such candidate who has been called for such an interview. The last requirement for a teacher happened 3-4 months ago. I completely deny this charge and I am surprised our school’s name was dragged into this. We may file a defamation case,” Sinha said.

“I feel it is unfortunate for our school to be mentioned as I would never dream of doing any such thing. As a principal it would be unethical of me. If such a candidate appears for an interview, I would never ask such questions,” she insisted.

News18 could not contact the authorities of two other schools named in Suchitra’s complaint.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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