A 29-year-old Telangana doctor has earned the distinction of becoming the first designated ‘transgender’ in India to qualify for a postgraduate degree in medicine.
Ruth John Koyyala will now study emergency medicine at ESI Hospital, Sanathnagar, after winning a rigorous two-year legal battle to claim her rights.
Ruth said she had submitted over 20 representations to several departments and ministers, but got no favourable response from them, leading her to knock the doors of Telangana high court.
“The HC heard my plea to reserve a seat for transgender people in NEET PG counselling,” said Ruth, who is from a scheduled caste family in Khammam.
Currently a medical officer at Osmania General Hospital, Ruth, despite being eligible for NEET PG admission in 2022, declined the seat as she was offered one under the ‘female’ category.
Her intention was not only to assert her identity as a transgender but also open doors for other transgenders to get their rights with dignity by legalising the ‘transgender’ seat.
Other transgender doctors in India have pursued PG degrees in medicine, but either on a male/female seat or under the management quota. In contrast, Ruth fought for equitable representation and won.
Ruth had applied under the transgender category, but faced hurdles because of the lack of reservation for trans-people in Telangana at the time, contrary to the Supreme Court’s NALSA case judgment of 2014.
In June 2023, the Telangana HC issued an interim order to establish provisions allowing Ruth to apply under the transgender category.
“My dream is to become a gynaecologist as I want to serve my community members, many of whom avoid seeking medical care during and after their gender transition,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to people who supported her, including trans-activist Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, her legal team, and her colleagues.
“In fact, when I was allotted a seat at ESI, my first concern was the steep annual fee of Rs 2.5 lakh. However, my hospital superintendent Dr B Nagendar promptly raised a request and several colleagues contributed, collecting 1 lakh. Some lawyers also pooled in funds, and the remaining Rs 1.5 lakh was raised by the Helping Hands Foundation,” she said.