CHENNAI: Prithika Yashini’s dream of becoming the State’s first transwoman sub-inspector of police came to an end after she lost the final 100-metre lap at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old had qualified the first-level - 400-metre race, long jump and throwball - but lost in the final lap after she injured her knee. “My knee began hurting after the long jump yesterday. Had I been given time to train and a coach, I would’ve cleared the tests’, said a teary-eyed Prithika.
Hailing from a modest family from Kondalampatti in Salem district, Prithika dreamt of becoming a police officer since her school days. “I think I was four or five years old when I decided that I wanted to become a police officer. That ambition remained even during the tough times,” she said.
It was during high school that Prithika, then a boy, realised that something was amiss: she was a transgender. What followed was horror. “I used to be mocked and ragged in school and in college where I did my graduation in Computer Applications. After my parents and siblings too refused to accept me, I ran away and came to Chennai,” she recalled.
She made friends in the city, also transgenders thrown out of their homes. “I found solace and respect when I lived with them. They gave me the courage to be the way I was and to pursue my dreams. I transformed into Prithika and got a job as a women’s hostel warden with Rs 1,000 per month as pay.”
It was not easy at work, as she had not revealed her gender details to anybody, except her immediate superior. “People tend to stereotype transgenders. They feel we are sexual predators, robbers or beggars, which is not true,” she said, explaning why she feared coming out of the closet.
This was also the time when she began to gather courage to realise her childhood dreams and applied to be an officer of law. Another period of turmoil followed when her application was rejected. “My birth certificate showed that I was a male. In the application, I had ticked the box for female. There were only two options in the gender column,” she said, anger filling her eyes.
This is where her friends pitched in again, and she went to the High Court, to get her name changed officially.
The court too acknowledged her plea and allowed her to sit for the entrance exam, but the difficulties did not end. “I received the hall ticket a night before the test, while the others got it a week earlier. After all this, they disallowed me from appearing for the physical tests. I went to the High Court again, and the court helped me compete,” she says.
To make it to the list, Prithika woke up every morning at four and ran and worked out for two hours at Sriperumbudur. But, she feels that a guidance from a coach would have helped her deliver better results. “I approached a fitness trainer in my locality, but he bluntly refused. So, I used to practise on my own,” she said.
But on Wednesday, all her efforts went up in smoke. “If only I were considered as a third gender and treated fairly,” she said, with large drops of tears falling from her eyes.