Visibility is the First Step Towards Inclusion. Assam’s Decision to Include Transgender Option in Exam Forms is Laudable


Visibility is the First Step Towards Inclusion. Assam’s Decision to Include Transgender Option in Exam Forms is Laudable

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

In a positive development concerning the queer community, Assam became the first state in the country to add a “transgender” option in the gender category of the civil service examination form. Forty-two transgender persons have applied as candidates for the combined competitive (preliminary) examination (CCE), 2020, conducted by Assam Public Service Commission (APSC).

The examination is similar to the civil services examinations conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). It helps select candidates for state civil service, police, and other allied services for the state.

As reported by Hindustan Times, APSC Chairman Palla Bhattacharya said, “Initially we had not made a separate category for transgender persons when we issued notification for the exam in September. We were soon approached by a prominent transgender activist Swati Bidhan Baruah to include a separate category. We had a discussion with Baruah and also checked with UPSC where transgender persons are already allowed to apply in a separate category called other. The state government was apprised of the matter and a separate category was created.”

Due to the pandemic, all applications for the CCE (Prelims) exam were received online. After the creation of a separate category for transgenders, the deadline for applications was extended to October 25. Bhattacharya pointed out that out of the 75,988 applications received, 42 applied in the transgender category. And that is wonderful news.

The move was appreciated by transgender activist Swati Bidhan Baruah. She pointed out that despite the 2014 SC order and a similar order from the Guwahati HC in 2018, they were not given a separate category, and thus she approached the APSC. “It’s a big thing that 42 persons have applied in the new category, as we know that they are a marginalised community and don’t get opportunities to pursue higher education. We need a committee to formulate the SOPs so that fake transgenders are not able to apply in the new category” she said.

The decision was cheered on social media as one that has been “due for a long time”. Users pointed out that it is time for other states to also take cue and implement similar measures. Some also argued that the Central government should’ve set an example and States should’ve followed.

“This would help thousands of transgender people in pursuing their dreams of choosing civil services as a career and living their lives with pride and dignity,” said Bhaskar Das on Twitter.

More needs to be done for the normalisation and integration of the transgender community in society, but this is a step in the right direction and must rightfully be applauded. It is time for other states to also follow.