Sathyasri Sharmila, against all odds, becomes the first transgender lawyer in Tamil Nadu

This is yet another inspiring story of a transgender, who against all the odds became the first to enrol as a lawyer in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Bar Council.

Sathyasri Sharmila, a thirty-six-year-old transgender from the Tamil Nadu has been given the nod with other 485 lawyers to practice law in the state.

Sharmila, who was born as Udhayakumar in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district, left her home at the age of 18. Sharmila wanted to pursue a career in law and joined the government college in Salem to study law in 2004 and completed it in 2007. She changed her name to Sharmila while pursuing her studies in Salem.

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It took another ten years for her to enrol as a lawyer, as she said, she was lacking the confidence to enrol with the state bar council. She says that being a transgender made her to join the law and it was also her father’s dream to see her as a lawyer. Her efforts were hailed by the Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Association, which said that this would be a boost to the image of the community and also they will now have a representation in lawyers’ community.

She said that the road to achieve this success was faced with severe challenges. “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.

When faced with discrimination, she rented a house in the city and had to pursue her studies. “The moment judges called me as the first transgender lawyer in the state, I had forgotten everything. It made me excited,” said Sharmila. Justice PN Prakash of the Madras high court wished good luck to Sharmila and said that one day he wished to see her as a judge.

She received huge praises for her efforts from the Bar Council, “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).

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