Transgender Student Writes Heartfelt Appeal to Berkeley Center and Oxford Human Rights Hub: Invest in Our Education

Mugil proposed a comprehensive matrix for implementing affirmative action for transgender persons and argued for a return to positive discrimination.
The letter contains earnest request for consideration and support from the academic community, for future generations of transgender students facing financial struggles.
The letter contains earnest request for consideration and support from the academic community, for future generations of transgender students facing financial struggles.

Bengaluru- In a heartfelt plea, Mugil A V, a transgender student from Bengaluru, has reached out to prominent academic institutions, urging them to initiate scholarship programs specifically for transgender students.

Mugil has been engaged in a protracted legal battle with the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, highlighting the lack of affirmative action for transgender individuals and the denial of their rightful admission despite achieving favourable scores in entrance exams.

In a conversation with The Mooknayak, Mugil highlighted concerns regarding other transgender students facing similar challenges at Universities, where despite clearing exams and gaining admission, they encounter significant hurdles in obtaining adequate financial aid.

Mugil noted that the existing processes and documentation requirements do not appropriately cater to the needs and conditions specific to transgender individuals, potentially leaving them vulnerable.

Regarding the NLSUI's scholarship distribution, Mugil pointed out the Vice-Chancellor's claim, made in January 2024, that 25-30% of students receive scholarships.

However, Mugil emphasized that there is a lack of transparent public data detailing the extent and breakdown of scholarships across different communities and categories at NLSIU.

In a heartfelt and detailed email addressed to prominent academic institutions, the Berkeley Center and the Oxford Human Rights Hub, Mugil narrated their journey and the challenges they face.

Initially, after being provisionally admitted to NLSIU and paying an initial fee of INR 50,000, Mugil’s admission was stalled due to their inability to pay the full amount of INR 3,25,000 upfront or secure sponsorship for the three-year program.

“Discrimination is unfortunately the most commonplace situation in the world. And I must, like all citizens, await the resolution of the case,” Mugil stated in the email. They emphasized that their purpose in reaching out was not to seek personal support but to advocate for broader systemic changes that would benefit all transgender persons seeking education.

One of the critical allegations against Mugil was that they had not made enough efforts to raise funds. Addressing this claim, Mugil expressed their frustration and the inherent difficulty of creating resources without initial support.

Mugil urged educational institutions to consider the establishment of scholarships specifically for transgender students to prevent such barriers in the future.

Mugil explained to The Mooknayak, "For this scholarship, I have proposed a weighted matrix that considers both caste and the diverse lived realities of transgender students. This approach assigns higher scholarship amounts to those who face compounded marginalization due to caste and other disabilities resulting from their pursuit of self-determination of identity."

Mugil highlighted the impact of missing out on the 11th Annual Conference on Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination due to their current situation.

As someone who had audited the Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law course on edX offered by the Berkeley Center, Mugil had hoped to deepen their understanding by pursuing a formal education in law, a dream now hindered by financial and institutional barriers.

Enclosed with the email were copies of Mugil’s academic paper titled "Eviscerative Equality and (the need for) Positive Discrimination Laws." The paper provides a critical analysis of current comparative equality and anti-discrimination frameworks, focusing on the plight of transgender individuals in law and society.

Mugil proposed a comprehensive matrix for implementing affirmative action for transgender persons and argued for a return to positive discrimination.

Mugil’s plea extended to seeking assistance in presenting and defending their paper at academic conferences, thus engaging in critical debate on the subject matter. They articulated the challenges faced due to rising global anti-trans sentiment and institutional barriers, which have hindered their ability to pursue education outside India.

“Given the rising global anti-trans sentiment, and the many institutional hurdles in mobility, I am currently unable to pursue further education outside India. As such, seeking the establishment of a scholarship or sponsorship (one that local civil society organizations and the University are unable or unwilling to provide me) is the last option available to me,” Mugil wrote.

They further expressed confusion as to why academic institutions and universities had not initiated such support systems and urged them to consider assisting transgender students in securing their basic rights by investing in their education.

Mugil’s email concluded with an earnest request for consideration and support from the academic community, not only for themselves but for future generations of transgender students facing similar struggles.

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