Padmini Prakash- Femme Fatale

15th Aug, 2017

| by writesolutions

Gender neither needs nor has gatekeepers 

On the occasion of its 71st Independence Day, let’s celebrate the time when at least notionally, we have freed itself from one kind of gender bias. It may still come across as a token gesture to the skeptics, but it’s not entirely without value.

When Padmini Prakash became the first transgender television news anchor in the country, the momentous event marked the success of an entire community, exactly five months after Supreme Court ruled that the transgender be recognized as a legally, the third gender.

Like other members of the sexual minority, Padmini Prakash too faced her share of social stigma and discrimination. Enough reason for her to abandon her family and drop out of school in search of her true identity. Little did she suspect then that the hurdles in her path are only going to grow with her gradual crossing of each milestone in her carefully-chosen career path?

She became the face of Tamil-language Lotus TV in Coimbatore for the channel’s 7 pm special daily, news bulletin. Her name was proposed by programme executives Sangeeth Kumar and Saravana Ramakumar.

Padmini’s life thus far has not been very different from others in her community. “I had a troubled childhood,” she told a media representative. Disowned by her family when she was 13, she left home and attempted suicide, but was saved by the bystanders.

Despite her parents living in the same city, she has had no contact with them for several years. “They have not accepted this yet. I am what I am. This is what harassment is,” she muses bitterly.

To parents in general she makes the following emotional appeal: “Parents, when they come to know should accept them for who they are. They should not isolate them.” The transgender community has historically been marginalized, brutalized and subject to extreme abuse in our indifferent society. Faced with discrimination, most have to parody themselves in front of others and beg to keep their body and soul together. What can be more tragic than this kind of a sad spectacle?

Worse, the police-pimp nexus and a sub-cultural life, while living on the periphery of our society also forces them into prostitution or scout for dangerous liaisons with the underworld – a road from where there is no retreat ever.

After working as a dancer and actor in a host of Tamil soap operas, Padmini was lucky she got a break with Lotus news channel. Expectedly, Padmini says she now feels liberated from the burden of social stigma she had shouldered all her life and the scars of which run deep down into her psyche and rob her of all manner and form of dignity.

Yet full of life and optimism, Padmini had the gall and gumption to participate in various beauty contests, and also won prizes! Padmini found her soul mate in Prakash, a goldsmith, who after spotting the spark of talent and ambition in Padmini, even encouraged her to sit for UPSE and gun for an IAS post, but she couldn’t pursue that dream due to financial constraints.

These days, she dreams of getting her foster son (transgenders are still not granted equal rights in adopting children) interested in full filling that dream. Difficult? Maybe. But for Padmini nothing is out of her reach. She may just have to stretch higher than others but she is accustomed to doing that.

She, her partner and their foster son today present an uncommon picture of happiness and resilience. Padmani’s is a worthy case study in how judicial intervention can quikly change the fate of a marginalized community and make change possible. The apex court ruling has consolidated the hitherto unstable position of hires — individuals, who are transgender, intersex or eunuchs— who faced all kinds of discrimination from doctors who refuse to treat them; police who refuses to give them justice; people who are ashamed of admitting them into their living rooms as fellow-human beings and are terribly ashamed to be spotted in their company; ridicule them and expect them to be ever-apologetic for being what they are.

Isn’t it a huge shame on our society?

“It is the right of every human being to choose their gender,” the court said, and slowly the impact is beginning to be felt of that historic statement.

A large number of transgender could come forward and admit their identity after that verdict and in one stroke, thousands of lives began to transform for the better.

Isn’t that charming?

As per a count in May 2014, their number stood at 4.9 lakhs. Though the community claims a bigger count, they are content that so many people are finding the courage to stand up and be counted. Earlier their identities were forced to be kept a secret.

A few years ago, Rose Venkatesan, a techie became India’s first transgender television talk show hostess when she presented “Ippadikku Rose” on Star Vijay TV.
With Padmini’s success, we hope to see more representation from this community in every walk of Indian life.

Won’t that be a proud day for India?


Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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