Why I am doing hashtag #TransExclusionistTU
Tribhuvan University did not accept my registration form, because I am a transgender.
I joined Bachelor in Arts first year (Sociology and Linguistics) in Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus was denied of registration by Tribhuwan University saying that there are no provisions to admit transgender people. TU, the first university of Nepal established in order to provide education to people does not have provision to admit transgender students.
I came out during my Grade 9. Due to my bully school principal, I could not come out that time. The education system in Nepal(has changed since 2016), had a board exam SLC, during Grade 10, and was the last year of school. Grade 11 and 12 were considered as +2. My SLC papers were with my birth name Krozan Kapali. After SLC when I came out and faced all the challenges, I decided to apply for citizenship based on my identity. According to the legal provision, I could change my birth name and use my gender identity. The Supreme Court Decision gave right to gender identity and those who mention their gender identity as “O” can put their own name in it different from birth certificates. This means, once while applying citizenship we are allowed to change our legal name and use it further. I did the same.
I joined her +2 with this and I also had a paper from her Ward Office that states Krozan Kapali and Rukshana Kapali are two names of the same person because I am transgender person. With this paper, that explained everything I used the name of mycitizenship in +2 documents and everything went smooth.
With an ambition to be a linguist, I joined Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus in BA First Year. Nothing happened even during my admission in college. Few days ago, when I got notified about TU registration, with all the required documents I submitted the form. According to their requirements, one has to attach all certificates of SLC and +2. When I showed her papers, because my name in SLC papers and +2 was different, I was questioned. Despite explaining everything and showing the paper from Ward office, I was asked to visit Office of Exam Controller, TU in Balkhu.
Nepal Era 1138/5/25 (12 March 2018)
Following instruction, on Nepal Era 1138/5/25, 12 March, I visited Office of Exam Controllers with a hope something could happen. The reception directed me to room number 24, where I explained my issue. I was further directed to the controller’s office in the next building. When I entered the room, I got a hint from their behaviour that someone from room number 24 had already informed them that I was going. The controller officer Pushpa Raj Joshi unapologetically explained why the system and provision of TU cannot explain these kinds of applications. He said that officially I am not the student of TU yet and they are not responsible for the issue. I was directed to change my name in any of the certificate and make it same. Either I had to change my name in SLC certificates as Rukshana Kapali, or move back and change my +2 certificates as Krozan Kapali, in order to get admitted in TU. When I gave SLC, I hadn’t come out yet, I used my birth name. Only after I got my citizenship, I could go further with my preferred name. How can they expect the same name of a trans person. This was high gender insensitivity and exclusion of trans people by policies.
When I called lawyer Sujan Pant and explained the scenario, I was informed Supreme Court asked to make law of changing past education documents, but neither the law has been made and present system to change name in SLC is like nearly impossible. Almost tears fell from my eyes when I remembered one of my relative told how hectic and long process it was just to change a slight spelling mistake on his SLC certificate. After so many struggles and fight, when legally I got my gender identity and I had my society with me, TU policy placed a crackdown. With this lack of provision for transgender people, I could not register. I did ask for a written statement from them, but they escaped from it that they are not obligated to provide me.
I had a telephone conversation with Blue Diamond Society’s lawyer Sujan Pant and Executive Director Manisha Dhakal. They told we would go for delegation. But my heart wasn’t stable yet. I thought, because my papers that states both names are same person, is provided from Ward, they are not considering it, I went to District Administration Office Yala De(Lalitpur). There CDO Officer was absent, some other people were waiting him since 10 am and it was 2 pm already. I discussed with two people, whose name and position I did not notice. I had quite much discussion with them. They even said that people could assume I am fake person carrying these documents, because pictures in my papers of SLC does not look like me. There was a long discussion. Also the reason, I asked for privacy, I did not want to speak about my issues with other citizens there who came for services, and wanted to speak the stakeholders only. This quite offended them which they did not visibly reacted. I was asked to meet CDO officer, but waiting for him was wasting time so I came back, and did a live video on facebook.
Nepal Era 1138/5/26 (13 March 2018)
The other day in Blue Diamond Society, chairperson Pinky Gurung, lawyer Sujan Pant, student activist Bhakti Shah, care-person Pegee and activists Sudeep Gautam and Tirtha Shakhya came along. We drafted a letter as organization and individual.
After waiting for the controller for 2 hours, we went to the room and talked. The team in the controller’s room asserted that this is first such case and TU policies do not allow this. They also stated that it is not possible to admit anyone in such cases. Our chairperson asserted how Nepal is leading LGBTI movement in South Asia and denying trans people’s access to TU isn’t a good sign. She stated how this policy of TU needs to be changed and they cannot marginalize a trans person. We had quite long discussion about identity. Our lawyer asked, a written statement from them and asserted that “We will challenge this policy in the court”. While the TU team in the room was constantly saying lack of policies, they were not assertive for a law that restricts a trans person, rather called it “trend”: “There is no such trend”. In fact they started relating it to a cisgender person Ram registering as Shyam, With height of gender insensitivity, I had a polite aggressive statement that this isn’t Ram being Shyam, I am a transgender person!
Our lawyer also stated, “We shall challenge TU as contempt of the court”. The TU team present in the room said that they do not have decision making power on this issue and will take this issue further, then after. They asked me to leave xerox of my documents and they would have a Board Meeting on this issue, where it shall be raised in the Executive Committee and a decision shall be made. They ended up with quite positive note, and I noticed changes in narratives when I went alone and with a team of experts. Nevermind, the system of government offices. I had to leave all my documents in the registration room, where also we had to discuss, because they weren’t accepting my documents saying such documents cannot be registered. We had to call the person back from Controller’s room and talk.
My documents got registered. According to them, the other day it goes to Room number 24, then the other day(if not public holiday) will go to Controller’s room, then meeting will be held, and decision would be made. I did a live video this day too.
While, I was waiting for my decision I am using hashtag #TransExclusionistTU
My take with this issue
I want to make sure that this issue does not become low profile stuff, since it is important for everyone to know what sort of challenges transgender people face due to state mechanism and policy. Trans people were given legal recognition by the Supreme Court in 2007. In 2015, the new constitution of Nepal guaranteed constitutional protection against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. But here I am facing the institutional discrimination at Tribhuwan University. TU – a public university – does not recognize a trans person and effectively excludes them from acquiring higher education.
I am struggling now, but let my struggle be the last Trans struggle here. I do not want any other trans person will have to go through all this and we shall be able to get education free of stigma and discrimination. And at the end, please do not sympathize on us. We are not looking for sympathy. We are looking if you could be a part of this process, where trans people are struggling for their identity to be recognized and one way could be hashtag #TransExclusionistTU on Facebook and Twitter.
Why is it obligated for me to go through unnecessary process of changing my names in SLC certificates? It could be understood simply, a transwoman who had used birth name before coming out and started using a name of choice after coming out. Isn’t it simple? You cannot compare it to one person having two names Ram and Shyam. This is not cisgender issue. I am not going to swipe my names again and again, neither am I going to have multiple names. This is just a fact that, since the day I got my citizenship, I dropped my birth name and that is it!!!!! After I dropped my birth name and established a name of choice, that is it for whole rest of my life. I don’t get why cisgender centric mentality cannot understand this issue. The common Nepalese issue is, not being able to understand diversity. Be it whatever diversity, state authorities cannot digest. The point is, because transgender people are transgender people, not cisgender people, we require gender sensitive policies that meets our requirements and needs as well. You cannot just put cisgender people in the centre and make every policies just for them!!!!!
In Nepal, cisgender people join University and study; transgender people defend defy & struggle for their identity at almost every level of the structure then study if we get time outside the harassing environment of society. My issue in TU is not to be taken from a “problem solving point of view”. My issue isn’t a problem, it is lack of gender responsive policies of institutions.
Nepal Era 1138/6/1 (18 March 2018)
I went to TU today and I was told that after 5 days of registering my documents, it has reached to Controller’s desk, following all their process, and they will stay in Board meeting and further processes happen, and they decide, then they would call me. I was not informed about the date of Board meeting and I don’t know if it is the last process.
Nepal Era 1138/7/17 (2 April 2018)
I went in the office while controller was out, I talked with one of deputy controller. He said, he had no idea about decision since he was absent on that day. Talking to him, suggests me to get back and use my birth name associated with male gender identity. It was not tolerable, and I said I don’t want to argue with them and if such decisions have been made, give me in written, I will challenge you in the court. While I was waiting to meet the controller, I wanted to get a recharge card, but he was there outside the building. I talked to him and he said he has asked the Legal people and waiting for their reply.
He asked me to come Wednesday again. I will go Wednesday. The thing is I don’t want this to be my issue and solution only. I also want that solving this issue would make doors open for other trans people who wanna join University. It means to change LGBTI unfriendly laws. The forms in TU have only two boxes of gender. Why is it that a transgender person who chooses to have a name of their gender identity, and change their birth name do not have provision to get admitted in TU. Lets challenge discriminatory law.
Nepal Era 1138/8/26 (9 July 2018)
My issue has reached at highest level of TU, but no decision has been made. Exam controller has asked me to submit my documents, and will take the process forward, and parallel the decision will be made. And I went all the way to TU, and they asked me I cannot submit my documents myself, and ask a college staff to bring it there. I went to my college and again they will write a letter. He college says, they won’t be taking documents to TU anymore and I need to take it. Two bodies gave me contradictory instruction. I also have a sense that, they are trying to register me with “double charge fine”. If they do so, I am gonna make another issue out of this. I am not paying double charges for what it isn’t my mistake. TU should take ownership of this issue, as it is their fault of not having provisions to admit a transgender student.
Nepal Era 1138/9/5 (17 July 2018)
Today the Exam Controller was not there. As per the instruction of previous meet with the Exam Controller, I went to TU with a college staff. I took a staff from Tri-Chandra college to have my documents registered. As Exam Controller told me in the last meet up, “Your study will also go on and the decision will also be made parallelly. We need a college staff to leave your documents to us. But even when I went with a college staff, my applications were not taken by the registration room. They asked an order from exam controller who was not present today.
Now they also told me that I have to change my SLC papers. The decision of Academic Council, or TU Board, or Ministry of Education is important for my registration in TU.
Nepal Era 1138/9/13 (25 July 2018)
My mom submits my exam form in my college, since I was at World AIDS Conference in Netherlands. Exam forms are something to be filled after registration form. I had to fill TU registration number in exam form, but had to leave it blank since my registration was not done. My mom was charged 600 rupees more, because they said it is 4 months late. I could not understand this, if it was miscommunication with my mom, or something else, because when I asked the college staff they told me deadline is July 26. My parents were asked to go here and there because they had to explain my case to a new person again and again. It was even suggested that I will have problems later if I fill exam form without TU registration number. It is okay that I won’t miss exam this year, but my registration at TU: the decision isn’t done yet.
Nepal Era 1138/10/2 (13 August 2018)
Submitted this application to Ministry of Education explaining all my issue, attaching all my necessary documents.
Nepal Era 1139/01/15 (23 November 2018)
One of my journalist friend asked the exam controller Pushpa Raj Joshi and he told them, that since it is the first case, they are having difficulties to address this. He said that he cannot make the decision by himself and has passed this to the senate. The meeting of senate happens only twice a year, so now decision shall be made in 2019.
It was only told that ‘The decision shall be made’. We yet don’t know what the decision shall be.
Nepal Era 1139/01/16 (24 November 2018)
I asked people from various countries of Asia Pacific region, who were co-participants of Youth Forum of Asia Pacific Declaration on Population and Development’s mid term review. They wrote a paper with the hashtag #TransExclusionistTU and their messages in English and their native languages and posted it on social media.
Nepal Era 1139/01/20 (27 November 2018)
Team of Blue Diamond Society met with an official from Ministry of Education. Mr. Hari Lamsal was positive about the issue and asked us to submit a collective narrative.
Nepal Era 1139/01/25 (2 Dec 2018)
I got a digital copy of a document from Ward Office asserting my birth name and my citizenship names are of the same person, by asserting that I am ‘transgender woman’. The same document I took around four years ago, was hand written and this is digital. The previous one just wrote that I am ‘other category’ which was ambiguous, and many people assumed me as third gender, so I had to have a legal paper to assert my own gender identity.
Nepal Era 1138/4/2 (7 Feb 2019)
I and Eshan Regmi filed an application as Intersex Rights Activist and Queer Youth Group activist respectively, for implementation of Supreme Court’s verdict. Supreme Court’s verdict on Bikrama Era 2073/10/2 : 070-WO-0287, stated that anyone who has changed their legal gender marker and name on citizenship documents, state should create provisions to reflect the changes in educational as well as other legal documents.
Nepal Era 1138/6/17 (21 April 2019)
I went to Ministry of Education and got to know the MoE had sent two letters on this issue to respective university(ies). One letter was sent particularly to Tribhuvan University and one letter was sent to all universities of Nepal with a copy of the letter I had submitted previously. MoE has asked TU to ensure provisions so that I can get myself registered.
I went to TU Exam Controller Office after this, but the respective stakeholders had gone outside the valley.
Nepal Era 1138/6/19 (23 April 2019)
I went to the Exam Controller’s Office. However he wasn’t there and his secretary asked me to talk to a person called Pashupati. I called him, and waited for a hour to his arrival. He was in the M.Ed. Gopya Sakha and I had a conversation with him. I did not have to explain much to him, I just said, ‘ma tyo gender wala ho k (I am that gender person), which he understood what I meant. (Maybe because it was on mainstream media once)
He took me to Bigyan Gopya Sakha and asked someone else to join in. We went in the meeting hall at the top floor. Those two men were really helpful and positive in the issue. They were saying that if government has provided citizenship, then there is no way that we can deny this. They also told that gender and sexual minorities are recognized in the constitution, and no one has the authority to reject their rights. They were also telling that the issue was raised in the TU Board, and it was said they cannot register me as per the rule.
With me in the conversation, they said that they disagree with that and they believe that if there isn’t such provision yet then it should be created, rather than rejecting a student due to lack of provision. They also said that there are gonna be many other student who would face the same issue in future and we need to address this. They both were actually talking among themselves that every citizen of this country has right to education, so it cannot be denied due to gender identity.
I was happy to hear these words from people in the institutional authority. Pashupati Sir took all my documents, and asked me to write an application explaining the issue. The application I submitted last year, was missing. I was asked to provide a copy of my citizenship and the Supreme Court’s decision (070-WO-0287) which supported this issue.
After everything was compiled in a file, he signed the document and asked it to be submitted in Room Number 24.
Both of them were really supportive and asked me not to worry, and it will happen. I thanked them and I went to the room 24 and submitted it. The lady there checked all the papers. I had attached a letter from Ministry of Education. However, it wasn’t the complete package of documents sent my MoE.
After the full package of document gets posted to Office of the Controller of Examinations and arrives at Room 24 (this process in Nepal is quite slow and procedural channel of travel takes time), it shall be attached in the file. Then the lady would put a commentary in the issue (tippani uthaaune) and send it to the TU Board for decision. She asked me if I would provide her the full packages of the documents. I called a person from MoE and he said they’ve directly posted it to the university.
There were two packages of document that was posted by MoE. It contained copies of the letter I submitted in MoE and the decision of MoE on this issue. One package was sent to all the universities of Nepal more than a month ago. Another package was sent to Office of the Controller of Examinations two days ago. I thought the package posted more than a month ago had already arrived, so I went to the Registration Department (darta sakha), but they didn’t know about it and I was directed to the Exam Administration Room. There I came to know that the documents were depatched to the central authorities of University. So I looked for TU Administrative Department on Google Map and took a 26 minutes walk. However it was the wrong location. I ended up at Sociology Department. I asked a person where the administration was, but when I reached the place he showed, it was administrative department of education. I walked around and I asked one person in the desk, explained him what I was looking for. They told me that I am at the wrong place and its in the Office of VC, which is a walk downhill.
Since I was drained, exhausted and hungry, I went back home. The package of documents depatched for the Exam Controller Office is yet to be received there.
Nepal Era 1138/6/27 (1 May 2019)
I went for the followup at TU Exam Controller’s Office Room Number 24 and came to know that the VC Department of TU sent a letter to Exam Controller Office asking for what are the provisions on registration. So basically, it isn’t a decision that I need to be registered, rather a query on what are the existing provisions.
Nepal Era 1138/6/29 (2 May 2019)
While my TU discussion goes on, I also decided to take another path to change my certificates of school. I went to National Examination Board, Thimi. I entered Exam Controller Office of Grade 10 first. When I asked them about the current provision to change my SLC papers, they told me the same answer (which I heard from someone else, a year before), that there is no provision to change name in it. They would correct spelling mistakes if brought until 6 months of certificate issue. But there isn’t any such provision. A man in room number 33, explained me clearly about the current provision. I then went to the head of the board to talk. The person wasn’t present. I decided to drop a letter at Ministry of Education, on this issue.
Back to my home, I dropped at District Education Office and asked if I could change my DLE papers. They asked me that I need to change my birth certificate for it, and bring an application from the school I studied.
I went back home, wrote a letter to the Ward office asking to change my name on birth certificate. They said that it would be a difficult process and asked me to come back after few days, since the application would go to Metropolitian city office and a decision would be made. I was concerned, because I had ‘son’ in my previous birth certificate and don’t know what decision would metropolitian city office take on this. I wanted to have a gender neutral term ‘child’ in the birth certificate.
On the same day, I also quickly drafted a letter for Ministry of Education and dropped it. I asked them for changing my name on my SLC papers. They asked me to come after two weeks.
Nepal Era 1138/7/4 (8 May 2019)
I went to the Ministry of Education to get updates on my application. After I reached the respective department, they said that an application shall be sent to National Examinations Board, Thimi and a decision will be made by the board.
Nepal Era 1138/7/6 (10 May 2019)
Went to the Ward Office. They wrote a letter on this issue to the Metropolitan City Office. However, the letter mentioned a problematic narrative, “She does not have an evidence that she is transgender.” The Ward people were also asking my mother if they could show medical certificates that I am trans. It did get into my nerves, but then most of the people are clueless about transgender and gender diversity, so I just took the letter.
While I was walking from the Ward Office to Metropolitian City Office, I was preparing myself mentally to deal with transphobic narratives. I was into imagination that I am talking with an official and explaining them about gender identity and what it means to be transgender. However, I arrived to the Metropolitian City Office and into the room of Civil Registration, I showed the letter of ward. The man in the chair, read it and understood. He said he needs to write a letter to the Department, because this case requires a policy level decision. He took xerox copies of my citizenship, birth certificate and other legal papers. He asked me to visit on Tuesday and he will write a letter to the department.
Nepal Era 1139/7/8 (12 May 2019)
I gave a call to Ministry of Education’s School Education Department. They told me that the application has been sent to National Examination Board. I called the National Examination Board and asked if I could meet the director. I had to explain everything to the person receiving the call. He noted my number. After a while, they called me and a man told me that the decision on changing name is to be take by District Administration Office or the Court. I went to the CDO office and waited to meet the CDO officer. He told me that there isn’t any such provision yet and I need to wait and see if the new law will bring such provision. I wasn’t satisfied, so I walked down to room number 18 : Administrative Department. Two men standing outside the door, I asked if anyone was inside. They told me that they are the respective person and asked me what was the issue. I explained them and they told me that it isn’t CDO’s job to do it, that all the rights are now to the Local Government. So I went to the Metropolitan City Office for inquiry and I was told that the Ward Office gives such paper. But the whole point is, I already have a Ward office’s paper stating that my deadname and my own name are the same person. I called NEB back and I told the same man that now CDO does not do such works, and the Ward papers are the legitimate document.
He started to tell me I need to visit a lawyer. I was so pissed off and I said that, when I appeared my +2 examination, it was the same institution that accepted the papers of Ward Office and recognized me as Rukshana Kapali. Now it is the same institution that is rejecting the same papers, to change names in my SLC certificates. That is not done. I asked him that I want to talk with the director at NEB about this. He asked me to visit tomorrow noon.
Nepal is such an amazing country. No authorities know what their rights are. They keep on asking to go here and there. All I want to do is, bring this issue on the table and have policy changes if required. If it was about just working with current policies, this wouldn’t have been an issue. The major issue is that the policy does not address this particular issues of transgender and non-binary people. That is the problem to be tackled. It is everytime the authorities justifying their problematic and exclusionary policies and not willing to do something to change them, despite their power and access.
Nepal Era 1139/7/9 (13 May 2019)
Went to National Examination Board to meet the director. I kept my issue with them and the legal consultant. They asked me to submit an application and copies of my documents. I wrote an application, attached xerox of my papers and also the decision of supreme court. I went to around 5 rooms for the signature approval and finally paid 200 rupees to get the application registered. The application will now pass through the systems and rooms, and finally the NEB board will make a decision on the issue.
A movie called Pahichan was shot on this issue as documentary project under the program HerStory: Accountability Edition by Onion Films . Brought to you by Accountability Lab and supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
National Daily such as Annapurna Post has covered the news. Few other local medias also published the news, but they misgendered me as ‘third gender’. I identify as ‘transgender woman’ and it is different from being ‘third gender’.