After undergoing a gender-affirming surgery 3 years ago, Thrissur’s P. R. Raghav took up the onerous task to get all his certificates re-issued in his rightful name, to do away with the deadname and identity that was thrust upon him without his consent.
But little would he have known that this battle will not only lead him but also his trans friends and siblings, in fact, the whole spectrum of LGBTQIA+, to a landmark victory of sorts. And will also expose one of the most seemingly advanced and ‘progressive’ institution’s rigidity.
Reporting for The Hindu, Sarath Babu George writes that “Raghav’s struggle to obtain modified academic credentials turned out to be an indicator of the systemic inertia that affected the section in a State that takes pride in being the first to adopt a transgender policy.”
Raghav’s pursuit, notes Babu George, has “prompted the Higher Education department to direct universities and higher education institutions to re-issue degrees, mark lists and other documents that incorporated the [chosen] identity of transgender people.” He also adds that the department’s order emphasises that these documents “will have to be re-issued with the changed name ‘without mentioning that it is a re-issued certificate’, adding that the statues should be amended if necessary.”
Raghav, who holds a B.Com (Hons) degree from Calicut University and an MBA from Mahatma Gandhi University, was turned down by the Calicut University even after he had “legally changed his name and gender through publication in the Kerala Gazette.” The Calicut University, which hadn’t fully developed a transgender policy, reasoned that his degree was issued before the surgery; however, the Mahatma Gandhi University readily corrected his documents.
Working with the Bengaluru branch of an Australian bank now, Raghav, notes that, it was in fact the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) that turned out to be the toughest nut to crack. He says that their — Calicut University and CBSE — “reluctance” cost him “several job opportunities including those at Infopark in Kochi owing to mismatching credentials.”
Taking such cases on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ collective, Queerala, Raghav’s lawyer Ferha Azeez moved to the Kerala High Court in early 2020 to seek justice for Raghav. “While the government order instils confidence,” writes Babu Geroge “Mr. Raghav’s struggle for justice is far from over,” as Raghav is still fighting a legal battle with the CBSE, which has declined to make corrections in his class X and XII certificates and mark lists, in the Delhi High Court.