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How Shyama fought poverty and social prejudice to win Kerala government’s first transgender scholarship


Shyama. S is a transwoman hailing from Trivandrum, Kerala. Kerala has been progressive in many ways and has been the first state to do take a lot of initiatives in matters concerning trans people. Adding to that is the fact that Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala.  Still, before Shyama, there are only two trans people who finished post graduation in the district.

Image: The News Minute

On the brighter side, Shyama becomes the first trans woman to receive the cash award of Rs.20,000 as part of Kerala’s Transgender policy. For Shyama, who has dreams of pursuing Ph.D., the journey has been anything but difficult. Talking about her path, she told The News Minute,

“I was a victim of verbal abuse in school and college. I was ridiculed when I attended an interview for a teacher’s post at a school in Kazhakuttam 2014. The members of the interview board ridiculed my look and behavior. But I am not ready to give up.  I chose not to react to abuses and I was determined that my focus will be on studies,”

Though she has had to face a lot of struggles from childhood, she was always strong and never gave up. Her father died when she was in school and her mother is her only source of support. She earns money by appearing in TV shows. But her dream is to finish PhD and come back and help people in her community get proper guidance and support. Because she genuinely believes that only a transgender person can understand the problems of others in the community better. However, her dream would just remain a dream if she doesn't get financial support from the governments and she is counting on getting it.

Though we now have the policy to put things in place, Shayama feels that a lot of things are just in papers. For instance, a lot of application forms still have only male and female as options to choose from and no option for third gender. The scholarship she received gains more significance in light of that. According to The Hindu, she told that

“So far, none of the things in the policy, including identity cards for transgenders, have been implemented. So, this is a welcome step,”

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Think Change India is a curated collection of positive news and stories from online publications across the country. It is an attempt to spread hope and encouragement amid the negativity that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. If you have such a story to share with the world, write to us at tci@yourstory.com

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