Tamil Nadu transgender sets sights high

Satyashri Sharmila was empowered by the landmark 2014 Supreme Court judgement that gave transgenders the right to decide their own gender. Sharmila has become a lawyer, and wants to be a judge next. Her story:    “I will work my way up the ladder and one day want to become a judge,” says Satyashri Sharmila, the first transsexual from Tamil Nadu to enrol as an advocate with the Bar Council. With immense satisfaction, Sharmila says enrolling as a lawyer as a trans person with the Bar Council was a milestone she had been trying to achieve for over a decade now. Now that she has done that, she says she will happily set her sights on moving forward. Sharmila is among the over 400 law graduates who enrolled as lawyers yesterday with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry here. “Now I am 36. I will work hard, learn the ropes and am confident that one day I will become a judge,” she said, adding she was however undecided about which branch of law to pursue. Sharmila,who completed her course in law from the Central Law College in Salem way back in 2007, says she could have enrolled right after graduation in 2008, but chose to wait as she wanted to be on the rolls only as a trans person. In the enrolment event, Justice P N Prakash said it was his desire to see a transsexual as a judge of a High Court during his lifetime. On her choice of law,Sharmila says she was not particular about pursuing it in the beginning. It was her father, however, who wanted her to do well in her studies. “It was NALSA (National Legal Services Authority vs Union Of India and Others, 2014) judgement by the Supreme Court which gave me courage and hope and the time has finally come to get attired in the robes of a lawyer.” In that landmark judgement, the apex court upheld a transgender’s right to decide his or her gender and directed the Central and State governments to grant legal recognition to such choices and suitably identify them as “male, female or third gender.” Born in backward Ramanathapuram district to middle class parents, Sharmila grew up in Paramakudi as Udayakumar and did her schooling and graduation in Corporate Secretaryship in the same town. During the 10 year period after her graduation, she took up various assignments, including working for an NGO, besides for the transgender community. On her identity, she says, “all along I had felt that I am a woman and am happy to be a trans person.” Sharmila now lives at Pukkathurai Natarajpuram village, a transgender neighbourhood near suburban Chengelpet. She says she is “very happy to render legal services to my sisters here.” On Sharmila’s enrolment,transgender rights activist Banu says it is a big achievement which will be a big motivating factor for other transgenders pursuing legal studies. Bar Council of India co-chairman S Prabakaran said the legal profession was open to all people. A career in law is ideal for the marginalised sections to grow and help others, he said. — PTI]]>