Chennai: Thirty-six-year-old Sathyasri Sharmila is Tamil Nadu's first transgender to enroll in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Bar Council and register herself as a lawyer on Saturday.
As she sat among the 485 other lawyers, her name definitely stood out. The going surely got tough, but when the judges called out her name as the first transgender lawyer in the state, she forgot all her woes, she said.
Born as Udhayakumar in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district, Sharmila left her home to study law in Salem at the age of 18 and eventually changed her name to Sathyasri Sharmila.
She, however, enrolled as a man in Salem Government College to study law, which posed its own set of difficulties. "I left home but could not stay in the college hostel. I could not live among men because I identified myself as a woman. Neither could I live with girls because I enrolled as a man," she said. She had to stay in a rented place and study.
If not for the transgender community, she would not be where she is today. "It was the plight of our community that made me decide to take up law. Apart from that, it was my father's dream to see me as a lawyer," she said. Appreciating her efforts, Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Association said that their community would be represented in the lawyers' community. "Apart from representation, we would also be respected," said Sudha, member of the association.
The Bar Council extended its welcome and appreciated the efforts that Sharmila had made. "Article 14 of the Constitution states that all are equal and given equal opportunity. The Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Bar Council has taken the right decision. I hope that this will encourage other transgenders to go for higher education and go into various professions like law," said S. Prabhakaran, co-chairman of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and president of the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA).
Justice PN Prakash of the Madras high court at the event held at the Bar Council auditorium wished Sharmila good luck and said that he wished to see her as a judge.