Inspiring Talk on Transgender Rights: Akkai Padmashali Addresses Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Bengaluru Campus

Inspiring Talk on Transgender Rights: Akkai Padmashali Addresses Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Bengaluru Campus


Bengaluru, 25 October 2023: The Department of Liberal Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (DLHS) of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Bengaluru organised ‘Trans Lives Matters: How to be an Ally?’  event exploring the realm of transgender rights and lives in India. The event included a performance of the play ‘Challenge to Sympathy: Akkai’ starring Nayana Sooda and directed by Belur Raghunandan. The day was headlined by an interactive session with one of Karnataka’s foremost transgender activists, Akkai Padmashali.

Akkai Padmashali has been a champion for queer and trans rights, an advocate for policy change, and a recipient of the Karnataka government’s second-highest civilian honour, the Rajyotsava Prashasti. Founder of Ondede, a human rights organization, Akkai was among the leading voices opposing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality. ‘Challenge to Sympathy: Akkai’, the 70-minute solo act is a dramatized narrative of Akkai Padmashali’s life experience.

The event interjected all disciplines to collectively approach the experience of gender from a position of marginality. It focused on the narrativisation of a trans experience from a social-political standpoint while tracing the historical discrimination of gender and sexual minorities in the Indian context. Both the play and Akkai’s talk emphasised the urgency of a gender-sensitive approach to content creation and content consumption.

The event aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 of Gender Equality, in pursuit of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. It mirrored the department’s efforts to nudge the process of social change by creating gender-aware and gender-just youth on the campus.  The day included the introduction of Speakeasy, the gender and sexuality club of the Department, which launched the maiden edition of their newsletter, ‘Kaleidoscope.’ Additionally, it also hosted Mr. Mohamed Rafi Pasha, Assistant Commissioner- GST, Government of Karnataka who spoke on ‘The State’s Role in Furthering Trans Rights.’ Further, a powerful moment was witnessed by the attendees, when Akkai was joined by her NGO’s director, Rakshitha along with other trans and intersex members with whom she works. Their presence was even more significant as they joined the stage right after the Supreme Court’s verdict on same-sex marriages was declared.

Dr. Shilpa Kalyan, the head of DLHS said, “With ‘Trans Lives Matters: How to be an Ally?” and Akkai’s presence on campus, we as a university further our efforts in creating a safe and inclusive space for students of all gender identities. It is in the pursuit of creating sensitive minds that are to be the leaders of our tomorrow that this event was a huge success.” Ms. Sumathi Nagesh, assistant professor at DLHS and the event’s organiser remarks, “The event was intended as a conversation starter to think of MAHE as a gender inclusive and gender just campus.”

With more such thought-provoking events, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education hopes to be a part of the bigger moment where it enables the future generations with the ability to be sensitive and empathetic citizens who see people through an equal lens. The institution’s unwavering effort in achieving the SDGs through such interactive sessions remains crucial to how it places itself as an inclusive educational space.


About Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE): 

Established in 1953, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) is an Institution of Eminence and a Deemed to be University. With a remarkable track record in academics, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and significant contributions to research, MAHE has earned recognition and acclaim both nationally and internationally. In October 2020, the Ministry of Education, Government of India, honoured MAHE with the prestigious designation of Institution of Eminence Deemed to be University. Currently ranked sixth in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), MAHE is the preferred choice for students seeking a transformative learning experience.

MAHE Bengaluru, an off-campus of MAHE, excels in delivering comprehensive education to students, supported by highly qualified faculty, and dedicated mentors. The MAHE Bengaluru campus has an inspiring, future-relevant learning ecosystem, on a new-age, tech-enabled living campus. Here, the students immerse themselves, transform and discover multiple choices and opportunities. At MAHE Bengaluru, the potential for growth and the opportunities available are boundless.

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