MUMBAI: Santosh Londhe, Mumbai University’s first “recognised” transgender student, is now a proud degree holder. Londhe, who prefers to be known by her adopted name, Sridevi, had enrolled for the university’s Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL) four years ago. That was when the university had introduced a “third column for gender” for the first time as per the UGC’s directions.

Last month, Sridevi graduated from the university with a double major in psychology and sociology.

While the university may have had transgender students in the past, Sridevi was the first to have enrolled as one officially. Four years later, after graduating, she has enrolled for a masters in psychology at Indira Gandhi Nation Open University (IGNOU). “I am passionate about education and wish to continue learning,” said Sridevi, who earned her living by running a beauty parlour. An art enthusiast, she had earlier done an interior designing course too.

Today, Sridevi works with an electronics’ firm during the day and teaches underprivileged children in the evening. She is probably the first transperson to teach children in a school run by an NGO in Malad. She also champions the cause of gender sensitisation.

She now wants to venture into business and set an example for the trans community, though lack of funds has pulled her back.

“I aspired to be a doctor but money proved a big barrier to education,” she said.

Growing up in a small house which got more crowded after her brothers married, Sridevi said she decided to move out to a rented place. “But buying even a small flat in Mumbai is a challenge,” she said.

Sridevi keeps herself positive by training in Bharatanatyam and spending her free time gardening.

As she has studied psychology, Sridevi said she is preparing herself to answer online queries of her trans sisters and people who wish to know how she handles stress. Her story has been featured in documentaries and short films.

Sridevi, who turns 36 on Friday, is looking forward to celebrating her birthday at her workplace and then spend some time with underprivileged the children who affectionately address her as “Akka”.



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