No space for some: Transgender and non-binary persons’ access to higher education in science in India

No space for some: Transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary persons access to higher education in science in India

In recent years, the Indian education landscape in general and the science education landscape in particular have started engaging critically with questions of how people coming from marginalized backgrounds navigate and access educational spaces. In these conversations, the rights of transgender persons to affirmative education have been recognized by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 among many other documents. However, despite these conversations, judgements and policies, Indian science institutions remain abysmally inaccessible to transgender persons. In this regard, this research aims to investigate the problems faced by transgender and non-binary persons in accessing science institutions, their perspective of the aforementioned policies, status of implementation of those policies and institutional change in science institutions that would make the journey of transgender and non-binary persons in science more equitable. The study proposes to use a combination of applications under Right to Information Act (RTI act) 2005, qualitative interviews and focussed group discussions with transgender persons within the science ecosystem in India, and analysis of pre-existing policies. The results will be published as journalistic reports, along with a zine to disseminate the findings and a policy brief.

Key Words: Science Education, Transgender and Non-binary Persons, Access, Policy, Right to Information

Key Themes:
Non-binary Identities, Systemic Alienation
Project Site:
Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai
Principal Investigator: 
Sayantan Datta
Host Organisation:
Krea University, Sri City

Sumit Bose
Former Finance Secretary, GOI

Sumit Bose was the Union Finance Secretary and Revenue Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India till his retirement from the Indian Administrative Service in March, 2014. In the Ministry of Finance he was also Secretary in the Departments of Expenditure and Disinvestment.
As Joint Secretary in the Department of Elementary Education, he was responsible for the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. He was also Secretary, School Education in Madhya Pradesh.

Currently he serves as an Independent Director on the boards of several companies and on the boards of various non-profits such as Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Jal Seva Charitable Foundation (WaterAid India), Parivaar Education Society (Kolkata) and Samaj Pragati Sahayog (Bagli, Dewas).

Nargis Panchapakesan
Former Head and Dean, Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi

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K. Subramaniam
Former Director, HBCSE, TIFR, Mumbai

Professor K. (Ravi) Subramaniam holds a PhD in Philosophy from IIT, Mumbai. He served as Director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai from July 2016 to June 2021.

Professor Subramaniam has worked extensively in the area of mathematics education. He has taught various courses in mathematics education for doctoral students including: Introduction to Mathematics Education Research, Theoretical Perspectives on School Mathematics, Representations and Reasoning, and Philosophy of Education. He was a key contributor to course development of the M.A. Elementary Education programme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and has taught the Pedagogy of Mathematics; Child development and Cognition courses in the programme.   He has mentored and supervised doctoral students across a range of topics including, learning of mathematics, teacher development and mathematics teaching, and science, technology and sustainability.

Professor Subramaniam has a range of publications to his credit in international and national peer reviewed journals. He has authored books for students and teachers, developed manuals and resources for teachers and published various research reports. Professor Subramaniam has made mathematics an enjoyable subject through his books titled - Maths for every child. Some of his key and co-authored publications include: Teachers’ construction of meanings of signed quantities and integer operation, (Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 2017) and Mathematics teacher training manual class I and class II. New Delhi: NCERT, (2010).

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan
Former Chairperson ZHCES, SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan is a sociologist of education. She was formerly with the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research has focused on exclusion, inclusion, and social justice in education with particular reference to the schooling of marginalized sections of Indian society: Dalits, Adivasis, and the poor. She has published widely in these areas. Her current research interests include the privatization of schooling and urban transformations and education. She is the editor of the ‘India' section, in the Second International Handbook on Urban Education (Springer, 2017). Her recent publications include ‘Caste and the Politics of the Early “Public” in Schooling: Dalit Struggle for an Equitable Education’ (Contemporary Education Dialogue, July 2020) and Education and the Changing Urban in Delhi: Privilege and Exclusion in a Megacity (Perspectivia.net, 2021). She has been President of the Comparative Education Society of India.

Anshu Vaish
Former Secretary, Education, MHRD

Ms. Anshu Vaish, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the batch of 1975, Madhya Pradesh Cadre, superannuated as Secretary, School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Prior to that, she has worked extensively in the social sector, including culture and school education, serving in the Departments of Women and Child Development, Health, Social Justice and Empowerment. She has also headed the Archaeological Survey of India as its Director General.

Ms. Anshu Vaish has been involved in various assignments over the years. She chaired the Task Force on Restructuring of the National Council for Teacher Education and was a member of NUEPA’s group to draft a Model Education Code for schools. She has served as Chairperson of Rangasri Little Ballet Troupe Trust, Chairperson of PRADAN, Member of the Governing Body of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhopal, and Independent Director on the Board of Steel Authority of India.

Currently, Ms. Vaish serves as Chairperson of Rainbow Foundation of India and Member on the General Body of Centre for Equity Studies. She is also a Member on the governing bodies of KATHA, Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute, and Aga Khan Foundation India.