Amid ongoing debate over transgender rights, a 21-year-old student on the southern outskirts of Kolkata is working hard to ensure that there are separate public washrooms for the transgender community. Four public toilets in Bansdroni have created a separate space for transgenders, and it is all due to the efforts of Sobhan Mukherjee.
According to a Better India report, Mukherjee, who actively followed LGBTQI issues in college, has been fighting for transgender rights and wants separate toilets for them.
Apart from the regular ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ signs, these four washrooms in ward 112, have another room marked ‘Tridhara’, signifying transgender persons with their internationally accepted symbol.
As Sobhan dug deeper into the problems faced by the community, he found that the unavailability of separate toilets was a major obstacle. He approached the ward councillor, Anita Kar Majumdar, with his proposal, who readily gave him the permission to create separate signage for the washrooms and put them up.
Praising Sobhan’s efforts, Majumdar said, “Hats off to him for coming up with such socially responsible ideas, which none of us even think of. So far, no one has created a problem for earmarking toilets for the third gender. If someone does so in the future, I will personally intervene and see to it that there is no hindrance to this project.”
According to a Times of India report, despite the Union sanitation ministry issuing a guideline about usage of washrooms by transgender persons of their own choice, a majority of them report harassment and hostility by the public and security personnel at the toilets.
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Overjoyed at the exemplary step, members of the LBGTQI community in the city showered adulation on Sobhan, for he is neither an activist, nor a member of the community himself.
A transgender activist, Ranjita Sinha, said “Sobhan is not even an activist, so when he broached the topic, I wondered how serious he was. But I was amazed by his initiative, and the fact that he even coined a perfect word for the community.”