‘Need curriculum to educate about all genders’
Born as Ratikant Pradhan in Kanabagiri village of Odisha, Aishwarya Rituparna is India’s first transgender civil servant. Recognised as a man for the most part of her life, Aishwarya, openly declared her identity after the Supreme Court of India gave recognition to transgender as the third gender in 2014.
First transgender civil servant faced abuse, but wants to create an informed and sensitised society
Aishwarya graduated in Political Science from Kalinga Maha Vidyalaya, holds a postgraduate degree in Public Administration from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and was conferred with a Postgraduate Diploma in English Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal. She cleared Odisha Civil Services exam in the first attempt, without any coaching under male category in 2010.
“While I was pursuing my education there were only two boxes for gender specifications – male or female, so I had to mark in the male category. All my life, I felt trapped as I enjoyed playing with girls more than boys,” she said.
“I was mocked at by people due to my feminine traits. The society made it a point to remind me that I was different and a misfit,” said Aishwarya, who realised that she belonged to the transgender category in her sixth grade.
Opening up to her family was not easy as her father was dismissive of it. “My father was not ready to accept my identity. No one ever thought highly of me. My orientation allowed people to presume that I would not have a serious career. However, all that never affected me, I continued to work hard on my studies,” said Aishwarya, who is posted as the GST Officer-in-charge at Paradeep.
Recalling her childhood, she said, “During my college days, children were intrigued to know ‘how I am from inside’. I was often harassed by my mates. During that time, there were no separate hostels for the third gender and by default I was put in the boys’ hotel. I was subjected to physical abuse and assault multiple times and I could not even file a complaint, due to lack of framework at that time.”
Awareness on third-gender could have saved her of the harassment. “We need to formulate policies and curriculum to educate every child regardless of their gender. This will make them a sensitive and informed citizen,” she adds.