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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Here’s How Madurai’s First Transgender Physiotherapist Fought Against The Tide And Proved Her Worth

  • IWB Post
  •  October 8, 2018

In India, we are all so accustomed to transgenders begging and dancing for money that the idea of them doing anything else strikes as almost unnatural. This is probably why the instant they try to break free of this discriminatory system all hell breaks loose upon them.

Ms. Solu, Madurai’s first transgender physiotherapist, had to face similar hardships as her sex change threatened to hamper her education and career. She has indeed had a life full of struggles but ensured to make the best of it despite all the odds.

She recently shared her story in an interaction with The Hindu, “I left my house in Sattur to pursue my bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy at PSG College, Coimbatore, in 2008. The question of identity always existed and I dabbled with the idea of sex change right after school. As I entered my second year, I became clear that I wanted to undergo the procedure. In 2010, when I had completely undergone sex change, I went back to my college to pursue my degree. The principal asked me to never come back again.”

It was only after much cajoling that the college authorities finally let her continue her education, on a condition though. Ms Solu was asked to dress up like a man if she wished to keep going to the college, which was quite humiliating for her.

But that was just the beginning of a long nightmare. The humiliation was followed by social ostracisation. However, instead of succumbing to the situation and calling it quits, she decided to rise about it all, give it her best shot, and prove her worth by excelling in academics.

She shares, “Nobody would talk to me. I was ostracised. I decided that the best thing to do would be to surpass everyone in the class. I worked hard and studied for long hours. I graduated as the Best Outgoing Student and received many awards for my academic achievement. The Principal himself came and congratulated me. It felt like a victory.”

However, things again went downhill for Ms. Solu when her parents started hearing about their son’s transformation into a woman. It was too much for them to take and consequently her mother committed suicide. “I was and still feel like I am the reason for her death. It took me a long time to deal with it and many months of working to distract myself,” she shares.

While Ms. Solu’s excellent academic records and qualifications made her eligible to take up a number of jobs in private hospitals and even at banks, the discrimination that she faced at the workplace was jarring. Her colleagues would harass her with lewd and insensitive remarks.

She shares, “I quit my job and decided to come back for a year. That was when I heard about the vacancy in Madurai’s schools. I knew I would enjoy working with children, with a secure government job.”

With the help of transgender activist Priya Babu, she managed to reach out to the then Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao and members of the School Education Department to find a role. Everything worked out after that.

“I was asked to take care of Chellampatti block. I usually visit about 200 villages in a year and try to bring more special children to attend sessions at Government School. If the child is unable to walk, I also provide home-based treatment,” she shares.

Members from J.K. Fenner India noticed her performance and, impressed by it, decided to provide furniture, fans and water coolers (which cost around1.5 lakh) to the centre.

Ms. Solu is now pursuing masters in Hospital Management through distance education at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University along with her job. She plans to do a Ph.D. after this.

“I hope that more transgenders are encouraged to take up education. The stereotypes and easy living will go away only if people like we take steps to break the norm and pave the path for others,” she says.

 

H/T: The Hindu

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