India has for the first time appointed a transgender as the principal of a college, a top education official said Wednesday.
Manabi Banerjee, a transgender woman, will head the Krishnagar Women's College in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, said Dipak K. Kar, chairman of an education panel that selects college principals in the state.
Banerjee is expected to start her new job on June 9, Kar said.
"She has been teaching in a college for more than 20 years, and had the necessary administrative experience. She was chosen through the usual selection process," said Kar.
India's transgender activists hailed the appointment as a proud day for a community that usually faces discrimination.
"This is a proud moment for us. It's great that people have begun accepting transgenders. Everybody should feel proud about this decision," said Rudrani Chettri, director of Mitr Trust, a group working for transgender rights.
Last year, India's Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a legal third gender, granting them minority rights and privileges to education, employment and health benefits. Since then, some colleges have offered a choice in indicating their gender in application forms.
Krishnagar Women's College offers undergraduate courses in the sciences and humanities. It is located in Krishnanagar, a town about 105 kilometers (65 miles) north of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.