For the first time after students were given the choice of ticking the ‘third gender’ column in registration forms, nine students have chosen the option at the state Common Entrance Test (CET) for engineering colleges. While registrations will go on till the end of March, the number of students identifying themselves as the third gender could increase.

“There’s no way of finding out if these students genuinely belong to the third gender, because this can be checked only once they appear for the entrance test and apply for admissions. We are happy to provide whatever encouragement is needed,” said Dayanand Meshram, joint director, Directorate of Technical Education (DTE).

The decision to include a gender option apart from male and female was taken by DTE in February, to comply with the 2014 Supreme Court order asking the country to treat transgenders as socially and economically backward and that they be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment as they belonged to the third gender.

In August 2014, the University Grants Commission (UGC) opened all its scholarships to people from the third gender and also requested universities to make similar changes to their admission process and their campus. By June 2015, University of Mumbai had made this change to their admission forms by including ‘other’ category.

While in 2015, not a single application was received by MU under the third gender category, officials at MU were surprised to receive a total of 48 applications in the other category for degree college admissions in 2016. A thorough check by varsity officials slowly revealed that most of these students had opted for the ‘other’ category by mistake while others were not even aware of such a feature in the admission form.

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