According to the Hindustan Times, 42 transgender persons have applied as candidates for the combined competitive (preliminary) examination (CCE), 2020, conducted by Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) for the first time in Assam.
Chairman of the APSC, Pallab Bhattacharya stated, “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.”
The Supreme Court had recognized Transgenders as a third gender in a landmark order in 2014. It ruled that they should get equal opportunities like every citizen in the country.
“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,” Bhattacharya added.
This year, all applications for CCE (Prelims) were released online due to Covid-19 pandemic. After the inclusion of the Transgender category, the deadline for applications was shifted to 25th October.
“The total application forms submitted till October 25 was 75,988. Of that 42 applicants had applied in the transgender category. The date for the exam has not been fixed, but it will most likely be held towards the end of December,” said Bhattacharya.
He added that the Assam state government had not devised a separate reservation policy for transgender persons yet. The applicants in the category would be able to avail benefits given to categories such as scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, OBCs, etc.
“The move to include transgenders in a separate category is a welcome step and Assam is the first state in India to do so. Despite the 2014 SC order and a similar order from Gauhati HC in 2018, we were not given a separate category. That’s why I approached APSC,” said transgender activist Swati Bidhan Baruah.
Baruah, the associate vice-chairperson of Assam State Transgender Welfare Board, had requested the ASPC to devise a set of SOP (standard operating procedures) to ensure that only genuine transgender people apply in the category and not non-transgender people.
“It’s a big thing that 42 persons have applied in the new category as we know that they are a marginalized 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” said Baruah.
Assam has a transgender population of 11,374 with a literacy of 53.69%, according to the census of 2011.