The students’ union president at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was recently asked to leave an event over an ‘inappropriate’ outfit. Pratik Permey, who identifies as gender fluid, claims the incident left them “deeply disturbed” while infringing on their fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Permey, 23, was invited to be a panellist at the 19th Ambedkar Memorial Lecture at TISSt. However, five minutes before the event began, a faculty member told Permey they would not be allowed onstage in their outfit. The professor, accompanied by a group of men from the organising committee, told Permey “You cannot wear an outfit like that, at an event like this.”
In an Instagram video posted yesterday, the TISS students’ union president from Assam said their outfit consisted of a blouse and a skirt – more conservative than the clothes they usually wear. The only thing it bared was the midriff.
A post shared by Pratik Permey (@pratikpermey)View this post on Instagram
“As a tribal person, conservation of body parts was never a concern. The village that I came from has a lot of tribal people and they were comfortable with very minimal clothes,” Permey reiterated in the accompanying caption. “What happened with me was wrong! And I want people to really stop speculating and controlling how my body will look in public and private spaces. It is my identity and I will express myself how I want to.”
In the video, Permey also said that the faculty did not inform ahead of time about a dress code or wearing formals. It was only five minutes before the event that they were told they needed to change into something more “formal.”
“I am an indigenous, queer, tribal person from the northeast of India that is very underrepresented,” the TISS student said, noting that the incident attacked their right to representation.
Speaking to Times of India, Permey said: “I am very queer and loud in the manner of my expression and everyone on the campus knows about it. I was hailed as the first queer person to be elected an SU president in the country.”