Meet Sathyasri Sharmila, the first transgender lawyer from Tamil Nadu

2nd Jul 2018
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With the never-ending complaints and debates over employers not being LGBT-friendly in India, there seems to be a glimmer of hope with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP) appointing Sathyasri Sharmila, a transgender, as a lawyer.

Sharmila (36), was chosen among the 485 youngsters who were waiting at the BCTNP to enrol their names as lawyers. She will be the first transgender in the state, and probably among the very few in the country, to register as a lawyer. Before this, Sharmila worked as an activist for the transgender community for more than 11 years.

Sathyasri Sharmila

However, for Sharmila, the path to success was not an easy one. She had to go through a lot of abuse and discouragement before she managed to finish her studies in Law. An emotional Sharmila told Hindustan Times:

“But the moment judges called me as the first transgender lawyer in the state, I had forgotten everything. It made me excited.”

Sharmila, who was Udhayakumar before, was born in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. She had to walk away from her home at the age of 18, as she could not tolerate the taunts of her neighbours.

"I completed my B.Com 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 recounts.

But Sharmila waited for nearly ten years before she registering with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. “I was still not confident about the treatment meted out to our community. But I believe things are gradually changing for us, and therefore, I thought the time has come to register myself as a lawyer.”

Sharmila says, as a lawyer, she is now more determined to support the transgender community in the state, and in the country. “But for their support, I wouldn’t have achieved this,” she added.

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