New Delhi - The new year held a gift for Jane Kaushik, a transgender teacher. She has been going from court to the ministry for justice, but now it seems she might have finally found hope. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat governments to respond to a petition filed by Jane Kaushik, a transgender woman and a teacher, who alleged that she was fired by two private schools in these states upon disclosing her gender identity.
The petitioner said in her petition that her services were terminated in CBSE-affiliated private schools in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat after revealing the fact that she is a transgender person. Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud directed the issuance of notices to the Union and the states, returnable after four weeks. The Mooknayak talked to Jane Kaushik, who opened up about her struggle during the legal procedure and the toll discrimination took on her.
Talking about the case and the hope she still has from the legal system, the teacher said, “My case was listed on 2nd January before the honourable Chief Justice of India at court no. 1. They asked me why I did not reach out to the respective High Court when my advocate revealed that the ordeal I faced did not happen in one single state. I faced discrimination in two schools of two different states, and that is why I had to approach the apex court.”
In a despairing tone, Jane said, “I am trying to be hopeful for justice. The journey has been long and traumatic. I had to take help from mental health practitioners because I was going through a downward spiral and had developed depression. The court was not her first option. She revealed, “The case has been going on for more than a year now. We have been writing to responsible authorities but unfortunately have not received any response yet. We wrote to the ‘National Council for Transgender Persons’ under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It is their responsibility to take notice of discrimination being faced by any trans person and take appropriate steps, but till date they have not responded to my plea.”
In a distressed voice, Jane divulged, “In December 2022, through a private CBSE-affiliated school in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, my journey through the complexities of my gender identity took a distressing turn. Revelation of my true self led to relentless transphobia and body shaming, leading to the abrupt expulsion by the principal, without any explanation or prior notice. This upheaval disrupted not only my academic life but also my existence.”
“Living in an all-girls PG, where staff members and students shared the same space, the expulsion pushed me out of my residence. Stripped of my place in the PG, I found myself forced to return to Delhi that very night. With limited train options available on short notice, I reluctantly boarded an inter-state bus around 8:30-9:00 PM.”
Safety is always a priority for individuals, but Jane had no choice left. She said, “As I prepared myself for a long-distance journey at night through public transport, the school harassment was affecting me deeply. The bus, initially empty and with no female passengers, made me fear for my safety. However, a glimmer of relief entered when more women boarded the bus from the Shahjahanpur bus stop.”
This, unfortunately, was not an isolated case. The trans woman revealed, “In July 2023, I encountered blatant discrimination in another CBSE-affiliated school, this time based in Gujarat. Throughout the hiring process, my transgender identity remained undisclosed. I accepted their job offer via email and embarked on the journey by a train. However, the situation took a surprising turn when the HR department called, requesting a scanned copy of my Aadhar card for accommodation booking. It was at this point that they realized my gender identity, responding with unnecessary scolding, accusing me of intentionally concealing this information.”
“I was urgently called for a meeting the next day. In a stressful encounter with the principal and a management representative, I was informed that, due to being a trans person, they could not accommodate me, and I was abruptly asked to return to Delhi.”
Jane Kaushik has often found herself at crossroads owing to her gender identity. Talking about her family, the teacher revealed, “Being a transgender child, it was anyway difficult for my family to keep me in their home. Being trans and unemployed made things even more complicated as they had to provide for me while tackling societal expectations. Because of that, I had to start living separately.”
The petition, filed by advocate Yashraj Singh Deora on behalf of Kaushik, challenges her termination, citing structural discrimination and harassment based on her gender identity. Kaushik seeks reinstatement and urges the Union government to establish guidelines preventing similar difficulties for other transgender individuals.