In what is a first-of-its-kind, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has introduced a gender-neutral hostel space which can accommodate up to 20 MA students who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming, reports The Indian Express.

“We want to create a safe space, a gender-neutral inclusive space that is also a non-abusive space. This is why we have come up with clear guidelines and a committee is looking at the applications,” said Asha Bano, the dean of student affairs, according to the paper. The institute has set up a committee to review whether the applicants are sensitive to gender-sexuality issues and ensure that the hostel is a safe space.

This comes after the student union passed a resolution in September last year of creating a gender-neutral hostel space and gender-neutral toilets on the campus. Earlier, in a landmark move, TISS had also introduced a gender-neutral salutation option for certificates. Graduating students could choose between Ms, Mr, Mrs and Mx (pronounced as ‘mix’).

“Okay so, I feel that it is a great initiative as the need for safe spaces to exercise one’s being has been recognized. Furthermore, it ensures that there is rising sensitivity and awareness amongst all students, that allows acceptance in a non-abrasive/abusive, and welcoming environment. Also, this would induce a behavioural change in the society, hopefully, it will be positive,” said Vasundhara Singh who has completed her MA in Regulatory Governance from TISS.

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