CHENNAI: Eleven years. That is how long it took for the 36-year-old transperson, Satyashri Sharmila, to see her dream come true. On Saturday, she was among the 485 advocates who were registered as lawyers with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Satyshri obtained her law degree from the Central Law College, Salem in 2007. Since there was no ‘third gender’ then, she worked with a number of NGOs. The turning point came with the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) case that declared transgender people to be a ‘third gender’. She knew then that it was time to shift her focus to law again.
“I’m ecstatic!” she said. “It has been a long, arduous journey but it is all worth it now. I have had to face a lot of discrimination throughout my life, but through my work I want to ensure that the next generation does not suffer the way we did.”
Satyashri hails from Ramanathapuram and had cut off all ties with her family due to societal pressure. Even after all this time, Satyashri said she was hesitant to inform her family.
“I did not want my family to suffer because of me,” she said. “I did not want my brothers to face any problems because of my gender identity. So I left and never looked back. I do feel this urge to call them, meet them and tell them all that has happened in these years, but I can’t get myself to do it. Not just yet...
Maybe sometime soon, God willing!”
In the absence of family support, it was the community that gave her strength. “In the last 11 years, my community has been my family,” she said. “They have stood by me through everything. The Bar Council too was very supportive.”
Satyashri said the most memorable moments of the ceremony was when Justice PN Prakash said he hoped to see her name on the list of judges soon. Justice M Govindaraj too was present at the event. The judges commended the Bar Council’s move to provide Satyashri with the registration.
“We hope this sets a precedent,” said C Rajakumar, secretary of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. “I was the one who received her application and I feel it is very important that we welcome people from all spheres and make the judiciary diverse and inclusive.”
The transgender community is delighted and they hope more transpeople would be motivated to get into law and advocacy.
“It is a very positive and reassuring step because it provides us with representation,” said Sankari, a transwoman associated with the NGO Nirangal. “It helps to make us part of the mainstream.”
But these are larger battles to be fought another day. For, on Saturday, Satyashri was planning other things.
She wanted to call people of her community who had stood by her and treat them to some of her delectable south Indian dishes to celebrate, not her, but their success.
On Saturday, Satyashri was planning other things. She wanted to call people of her community who had stood by her and treat them to some of her delectable south Indian dishes to celebrate