Manabi Bandopadhyay was born as Somnath Chatterjee as the youngest son in a middle class family from Naihati, North 24 Parganas district. As a woman trapped in a man’s body, she spent a troubled childhood and stepped into adulthood confused and terrified. When Manabi realised that her body demanded change and wanted to be recognized by the world and her family as a full-fledged woman, there was a lot of defiance that she had to face.
Manabi underwent a sex change operation that gave her the body she craved for all her life and became her true self. But this journey was not an easy one as she has to go through a series of surgeries and a long drawn hormone treatment to attain this reality. She knew that acceptance in the outside world was going to be the toughest challenge of her life and she braced for it. When she stepped out, people who knew her greeted her strange looks, curious glances and stifled laughter, which Manabi had to take in her stride.
The irony was that the same college where she served for eight years was immune to her feelings sniggered behind her back, and these were the people who in her previous life as a man never hesitated to call her a “girl” or “woman”. Her students were surprisingly cool towards this new avatar, Somnath/Manabi took on and accepted her without a question.
Today, Manabi has taken over an enviable post at work- she is India’s 1st and probably the only transgender college principal as she assumed this position at Krishnagar Women’s college in Nadia, West Bengal. She is also the Vice chairperson of West Bengal’s Transgender development board to develop a new third gender policy.
50 year-old Manabi has also adopted a son who is named Debashish and is finally at peace with herself.
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