A transgender woman has for the first time been appointed as the principal of a college in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, according to a top education official.

Manabi Banerjee will head the Krishnagar Women's College, Dipak K Kar, chairman of an education panel that selects college principals in the state, said on Wednesday.

Kar said that Banerjee is expected to start her new job at the college next month.

"She has been teaching in a college for more than 20 years, and had the necessary administrative experience. She was chosen through the usual selection process," he said.

India's transgender activists hailed the appointment as a proud day for a community that usually faces discrimination.

"This is a proud moment for us. It is great that people have begun accepting transgenders. Everybody should feel proud about this decision," said Rudrani Chettri, director of Mitr Trust, a group working for transgender rights.

Last year, India's Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a legal third gender, granting them minority rights and privileges to education, employment and health benefits.

Since then, some colleges have offered a choice in indicating their gender in application forms.

The college, located about 100km from the state capital, Kolkata, offers undergraduate courses in the sciences and humanities.

Source: Agencies