Note: Earlier this year, a teacher-training manual was published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) that aimed to increase the sensitivity of school teachers towards the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary students. However, due to online outrage against the manual and subsequent pressure from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the manual was taken down. The following statement in support of NCERT’s manual, published below in its entirety by the TheLifeofScience.com team, was circulated among various members of the Indian academic ecosystem. The letter has garnered the support of more than 200 individuals.
We support NCERT’s teacher-training manual on transgender-inclusive school education: A Statement by Members of Indian academic ecosystem
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had recently put up a teacher-training manual on its website titled Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap. The preparation of this manual was coordinated by Prof. Poonam Agarwal, former head of the department of gender studies, NCERT, and was based on the contributions by gender studies experts such as Prof. Mona Yadav, Prof. Mily Roy Anand, Vikramaditya Sahai and Astha Priyadarshini, experts on education such as Prof. Rajesh and Dr. Manvi Arora, activists and resource people such as Dr. L. Ramakrishnan and Priya Babu, as well as scientist and activist Dr. Bittu Rajaraman-Kondaiah.
The manual introduced terminology on the different ways one can identify their gender. It contains the success stories of several transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary people, and suggestions on how teachers can respond to distress faced by transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary children due to various gendered institutional norms in schools and outside.
News reports on this teacher-training manual were received with enthusiasm by some, while it also faced backlash by others. The backlash was accompanied by hatred aimed at contributors to the training manual. In addition to this, one person has filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which has asked NCERT for a response according to media reports. Further, according to the document by NCPCR made public by the website OpIndia, NCPCR has asked NCERT to “take appropriate action in rectifying the anomalies present in the document”, even though what the anomalies are is unclear.
Following this development, the manual is taken down from the NCERT website. The events leading to the removal of the manual have already received criticism from several activists and medical practitioners from The Association for Transgender Health in India (ATHI) have also issued a statement in solidarity with NCERT’s training manual.
As members of the Indian academic ecosystem, we condemn the pressure tactics used by the NCPCR that forced the NCERT to take down a manual prepared by experts in consultation with several transgender activists and academicians as a response to internet backlash. We also condemn the hateful attacks received by several contributors to this teacher-training manual. We believe that regardless of gender identity every child has the right to life and education enshrined in the Indian constitution. We recognise the need for proactive measures to have inclusive education both at schools as well as higher educational institutions.
We recognise the need for sensitization of all stakeholders of the school ecosystem (including students, teachers, administrators, non-teaching staff, parents and other stakeholders) towards the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming children. These measures towards sensitization should be guided by opinions from experts and well-thought-out scientific studies.
We urge the NCERT to retain this manual and we reaffirm our faith in the contributors who are experts on the said issues, some of whom are also trans-identifying individuals. We demand that the NCPCR acknowledge that the withdrawal of this manual violates the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming children to a safe and welcoming school ecosystem. We demand that the NCPCR withdraw their undue suggestions to the NCERT.
 NCERT Removes Teacher-Training Manual on Transgender-Inclusive School Education After Backlash, The Wire, 10/11/2021.
 NCERT takes step to help teachers support transgender kids, faces right-wing backlash, The News Minute, 04/11/2021.
 NCERT’s teacher training manual on transgender-inclusive education is nuanced and relevant, News9live, 11/11/2021.
List of Signatories
1 Sayantan Datta TheLifeofScience.com and Krea University 2 Subramanya H Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad 3 Shalin Jose IISER Thiruvananthapuram 4 Bijoy Mathew IISER Thiruvananthapuram 5 Niloopher Salam Independent 6 John George francis IISER tvm 7 Mridula Kaintura Independent 8 Arnab Priya Saha Harish-Chandra Research Institute 9 Anvy Kuriakose Independent 10 Krishnanand Mallayya Postdoc, Cornell University 11 Muthusamy R Lehigh University 12 Sajesh Vijayan IISER TVM 13 Vivek Cyriac Indian Institute of Science 14 Sijil Jose Independent 15 anupam a h ICTS 16 Sanra R IIT Ropar 17 Pooja R IIT Ropar 18 Aleena Achamma Paul IIT Ropar, Punjab 19 Ananthu Krishnan U Independent 20 Sanmay Sarkar IIT (BHU) Varanasi 21 Krishnanand K Nair Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram 22 Awantika Mishra Independent 23 Kushal IISc 24 Vishnu T U Independent 25 Suresh Govindarajan IIT Madras 26 Trupti Gaikwad Independent 27 Sabyasachi Maulik Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, HBNI 28 Tousik Samui Harish-Chandra Research Institute 29 S.Anushya Manonmaniam sundaranar University, Tirunelveli 30 Aneetta Joseph Independent 31 Namitha Soman Independent 32 Eube Blossom Manonmaniam Sundaranar University Tirunelveli 33 Dinesh Manonmaniam sundaranar university Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu 34 Praseeda M S Independent 35 Dinakar S Independent 36 Lakshmisree S Independent 37 Ameya Panicker Independent 38 Kapil Mangla Ramjas college 39 Pritha Chakrabarti Krea University, Sri City 40 Ranjitha Kumar Azim Premji University 41 Madhukrishna K U TU-Dresden, Germany 42 Aardra B Independent 43 A Mani Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata 44 Rohan kumar Independent 45 Ira Zibbu IISER Thiruvananthapuram 46 Jayne Independent 47 Roshini Ross MA Sociology student at Ambedkar University Delhi, Students’ Federation of India, Human Library Bangalore 48 Abigail Silversmith Irfan St Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Bangalore 49 Rachana Independent Trans rights activist 50 Sanika Independent 51 Achsah Marlene Independent 52 Aiswarya Premaraj Independent 53 Samatha Mathew CSIR IGIB 54 Nirmalya Kajuri IACS, Kolkata 55 Dr. Prashanth N S Institute of Public Health Bengaluru 56 Arpita Das yoda press 57 NIKITA ARORA University of Oxford 58 Jyotika Tomar Lady Shri Ram College 59 Chayanika Shah Indep Gender Studies researcher and Retired Physics Lecturer 60 Dharmesh Chaubey Independent 61 Vinusha Azim Premji University 62 Nandita Jayaraj TheLifeofScience.com 63 Jino Independent 64 Sharen Achangadan independent 65 Chirag Thakkar Publishing Professional 66 Ronak M Soni University of Cambridge 67 Sridevi Venkatesan PhD student, University of Toronto 68 Ayush Gupta Homi Bhabha Center For Science Education 69 Rita D’Souza No 70 Aditi Murti Independent 71 Sachin Grover Harish-Chandra Research Institute 72 Tashi Choedup Independent 73 Ananda Shikhara Bhat Student, IISER Pune 74 Abhilasha Joshi Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California San Francisco 75 S.Krishnaswamy Retired from Madurai Kamaraj University 76 Jayaprakash Mishra Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad 77 Sayali Independent 78 Shubham Ilhe IISER Kolkata 79 Anindo Chatterjee Independent 80 Kavya M Independent 81 Arpan Kundu IMSc 82 Shubha Tole Tata Institute of Fundamental Research 83 Aravindhan S Charles University, Prague 84 Anantu S IISER Kolkata 85 Sultan Nazir Student, IISER Pune 86 Dr. GEDDAM VENKATA DEEKSHIT ANDHRA PRADESH ANIMAL HUSBANDRY DEPARTMENT 87 Aishwarya Viswamitra Masters student at IISER Mohali 88 Lakshmi Sreenivasan Independent 89 Pratiti Deb University of Chicago 90 Jinia Ghosh Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar 91 Shubashree Desikan The Hindu 92 Yadukrishnan T A PhD student, Mizoram Central University 93 Himani Kandhari Independent 94 Bevan Stanely Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru 95 Harita Raval Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR 96 Swathilekshmi. S Independent 97 Narmada P Independent 98 Sayali Atul Bhatkar Independent 99 Ravi Singh University of Delhi 100 Shals Mahajan Independent. Writer. 101 Yashika Kapoor Postgraduate student, University of Sheffield 102 Vishwam Sankaran Independent 103 Urmi Bhattacheryya Independent Journalist 104 Rineeta Banerjee Independent 105 Writuparna Dutta Independent 106 Naven Narayanan Venkatanarayanan PhD candidate, University of Minnesota 107 Varsha Singh Indian Institute of Science 108 Collins Assisi IISER Pune 109 Anbazhagan K Independent 110 Prahladh Harsha TIFR 111 Siddharth Bhandari Simons Institute for the theory of computing 112 Aarcha Thadi University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities 113 Surendra Ghaskadbi Independent 114 Umang Bhaskar TIFR, Mumbai 115 Susmita Independent 116 Radha Independent 117 Shilpi Singh Independent 118 Aparna Shankar Tata Institute of Fundamental Research 119 Shrinivasan Raghuraman University of Utah 120 Priyanka Pulla Independent 121 Megh Marathe University of Mumbai, University of California, Irvine 122 Aatreyee Dhar Independent 123 Ashoka University Queer Collective Ashoka University 124 Pranav kumar Azim Premji university 125 Kamakshi Independent 126 Sameer Abraham Thomas Krea University 127 Yukti Arora Ashoka University 128 Debdutta Paul Independent 129 Sulakshana Nandi Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Chhattisgarh 130 Madhurima Nundy Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi 131 Sulochana R HBCSE, TIFR Mumbai 132 Aprajita Sarcar Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre de Sciences Humaines 133 Vasundhara Gautam Independent 134 Relissa Na 135 Dipa Sinha Ambedkar University Delhi 136 Reeja Nair Independent 137 Bijoya Roy Centre for Women’s Development Studies 138 Prajval Shastri astrophysicst, Bengaluru 139 Sharachchandra Lele ATREE 140 Ponniah Rajamanickam AIPSN 141 Sangeeta Independent 142 Jayasree Subramanian SRM University AP 143 Ravinder Banyal IIA Bangalore 144 Girish Sharma IIT Mandi 145 Proteep Mallik Azim Premji University 146 Jayashree Ramadas Independent 147 Gautam I Menon Ashoka University 148 Swayamtrupta Panda Center for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences 149 Rajani KS Research scholar, Gulbarga University 150 Seemin Rubab NIT Srinagar 151 S. Krishnaswamy Retired from Madurai Kamaraj University 152 Sarah Iqbal Independent 153 Arun Varma Thampan St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) 154 Dibyendu Nandi Scientist 155 Niruj Mohan Ramanujam Indian Institute of Astrophysics (signing in personal capacity) 156 Dr. Mohan Rao Independent 157 Kaushiki Sanyal Independent 158 Palahalli Vishwanath independent 159 Savithri NGO 160 V Madhurima Scientist, Tamil Nadu 161 N D Hari Dass IMSc Retd 162 Neha Desai Indian Institute of Education 163 Akash Gaikwad Independent 164 Aashutosha Lele Independent 165 Abha Dev Habib Democratic Teachers’ Front 166 Narender Thakur Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhii 167 Dr Kiran Bhairannavar Dept of Geography, Delhi School of Economics 168 Ayesha Kidwai Jawaharlal Nehru University 169 Amitava chakraborty University of Delhi 170 Ram Srinivasan Independent 171 Anupama Bose MovieSaints 172 Kajal Kiran Singh Independent 173 Nandita Narain St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University 174 Ravishankar BT URSC 175 Enakshi Nandi Independent 176 Anindita Bhadra IISER Kolkata 177 Ayan Banerjee IISER Kolkata 178 Krishna Sengupta Retired from University of Delhi. 179 srinidhi independent 180 Pravabati Chingangbam IIA 181 Debjani sengupta IPC, DU 182 Rahul Siddharthan IMSc Chennai 183 Sabyasachi Chatterjee Retired, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru. 184 Savithri Singh Independent 185 Yangchen Roy JNU 186 Deepti Trivedi NCBS 187 Deepika Joshi Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh 188 Vyom Sharma IIT delhi 189 Ankita Prasad IIT Delhi PhD scholar 190 Pranab Bagartti IITD 191 Shainal Verma IITD PhD candidate 192 Ktien Hima Independent 193 Sanket Saini Independent 194 Rajeswari Raina Independent 195 Rekha Awasthi Janwadi lekhak sangh 196 Bratati Pande Democratic Teachers Front, D. U 197 Roopkatha Bhattacharya IICB 198 Arnab Bhattacharya Tata Institute of Fundamental Research 199 Tara Thakur NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad 200 Rachana Independent 201 Deepa Padmanaban Freelance journalist 202 Meena Gupta Retired, University of Delhi