Sathyasri Sharmila enrolled as Tamil Nadu’s first transgender lawyer
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Sathyasri Sharmila enrolled as Tamil Nadu’s first transgender lawyer

Sathyasri Sharmila waited for over a decade before feeling confident enough to register with Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP).

india Updated: Jun 30, 2018 19:16 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Sathyasri Sharmila,Tamil Nadu,transgender lawyer
Sathyasri Sharmila (in shawl) enrolled as a lawyer on Saturday.(HT Photo)

Among the 485 youngsters who were seated patiently in the auditorium of Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP) in Chennai on Saturday to enrol their names as lawyers, Sathyasri Sharmila stood out.

At 36 years, Sharmila will be the first transgender in the state, and probably one of the few in the country, to register as lawyer.

It was not a cakewalk though.

She had gone through a torrent of abuses, discouragement and taunting remarks before she could finish her course.

“But the moment judges called me as the first transgender lawyer in the state, I had forgotten everything. It made me excited,” an emotional Sharmila told HT, adding that she was determined to support the transgender community as a lawyer. “But for their support, I wouldn’t have made this achievement.”

Born as Udhayakumar in Paramakudi of Ramanathapuram district, Sharmila walked out of her home at the age of 18 after her neighbours started taunting her. She subsequently changed her name to Sathyasri Sharmila.

“I completed my B Com (corporate secretaryship) degree from Paramakudi and was keen to pursue higher studies. It was the plight of our community that made me decide to take up law. I joined Bachelors of Law course in Salem Government College in 2004 and completed the degree in 2007,” she recounted.

But she waited for over a decade before feeling confident enough to register with Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP).

“I was still not confident about the treatment meted out to the transgender community in the society. But I believe things are gradually changing for us. We are beginning to be recognised after the Supreme Court registered us as third genders in 2014. Therefore, I thought the time has come to register myself as a lawyer. Serving the community is my priority now.”

For over 11 years, Sharmila has worked as a transgender activist.

S Rajakumar, secretary, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry told HT that Sharmila was the first transgender lawyer in the state and would be one among the very few in the country to become a lawyer as far as they know.

“She was the only transgender among the 485 persons who had enrolled themselves on Saturday,” he noted.

It may be recalled that West Bengal based Joyita Mondal was appointed as the first transgender judge in a Lok Adalat court on 2017.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 19:16 IST