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Asked if breasts were real: Kolkata transgender teacher recalls question by principal

Mumbai: “The children accept me with all humility,” says Suchitra Dey.

A teacher with an experience of 10 years, Hiranmay Dey decided to undergo a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) last year to become Suchitra Dey.

Her troubles were just starting.

Even though the Supreme Court in 2014 recognised transgenders as a 'third gender', the discrimination in society is still rampant.

A teacher at St Andrew’s Public School, Thakurpukur, Suchitra Dey, a double Masters in English and Geography, shockingly reveals about the questions posed on her about her breasts, sexuality and ability to give birth during interviews at various Kolkata schools. Not only that, she was even asked to wear male clothes by a school since her gender, according to her birth certificate was that of a man.

"A male principal asked me whether I can conceive a child after intercourse,” says 30-year-old Suchitra Dey.

Not only this, Dey reveals that instead of asking her about her qualifications, one school principal thought it more prudent to ask her if her “breasts were real.”

Suchitra says that principals from various schools, have time and again, humiliated her, rather than focus on her credentials as a teacher.

“The discriminations I have faced, or face, have all been meted out by respectable educated middle-aged men and women who seem not to be able to overcome their societal prejudices,” says Dey adding that they represent a certain type of middle-aged conservative mentality who cannot come to terms with the fact that someone from the third gender is trying to be so ‘mainstream.’

“You have gone against the nature of God,” she reveals as what many have accused her of.

The transgender community is often at the receiving end of stigma and exploitation, often thrown out of their homes, and society for being ‘different’.

Coming from a lower-middle class background, Dey reveals that her life has always been fraught with struggles. Having lost her father at a tender age, it has been her mum and she against the world, who have, by large, been against her.

“I have a Double MA and B.Ed degree and I am the burning example of discrimination,” she says, adding, “What about those who are less fortunate, will they never get a voice? We are the marginalised of the marginalised, and it is time this stops.”

Suchitra Dey, who is also an active member of the LGBT forums in West Bengal, has written to the West Bengal Human Rights Commission seeking intervention in the matter. She wrote, “I couldn’t handle the humiliation anymore. 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.”

However, Dey is not without hope. While the so-called educated seem to have shunned her at large, she finds solace in the youngsters she teaches.

“Their parents may have certain hidden reservations; however, if the children accept me as a good teacher, nothing else matters. They are without prejudice. To them whoever loves them matter, nothing else.”
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