By clearing her Class XII exams, 22-year-old Tarika Banu has become the first registered transgender to have cleared this exam in Tamil Nadu.
Being a trans person in India means having to face a lot of discrimination and struggle due to the lack of understanding about trans persons and the stigma attached to being one. But in recent times, we have seen instances that give us hope of better times ahead. Tarika’s achievement is one such instance, one that gives us hope, though hers was a tough battle.
Tarika was born as the fourth son to a family in Thoothukudi district, where she stayed until she was 18 years old. But unable to take the disapproval of her family for no fault of hers, she ran away from home to Chennai. Recalling the event to the Times of India, she said,
"When I left my home and came to Chennai, I never imagined that my life would turn out the way it has, and I will always be grateful to my mother, Grace, for that."
When she spoke about Grace as her mother, she wasn’t referring to her biological mother, but to a transgender activist Grace Banu. Grace, who is 29 years old, wants to make sure that other trans people do not have to face what she went through growing up. Hence, she has adopted Tarika along with few other trans women to give them shelter and a secure social life.
Tarika finished her schooling in Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Government Girls High School, Ambattur. According to The Indian Express, Tarika has asked the Tamil Nadu government to make sure that the transgender community gets to complete their education. Grace hopes that Tarika will one day become a doctor.