On Sunday, as Swapna, a transgender from Madurai, wrote the TNPSC Group-II exam as a woman candidate, her friends and well-wishers from the community in the city hoped the move is just a start to a series of reforms initiated for them.

A computer engineer from Kovilpatti, Banu, who has worked in a private company for two years, said she hoped to write the TNPSC exam next year. “I have been preparing for the exams for a while now but was not sure if they will let me take the exam.” Banu along with Swapna had filed a PIL in the Madras High Court to direct the TNPSC to permit Swapna to sit for the examination by treating her as a ‘woman’.

“It is not right to select female in the forms and write the exam thinking that the officials would not know, because eventually the certificates will be verified,” said Banu, whose academic records show her as a male.

K. Prithika, a B.C.A graduate, who is looking for a job, said, “Isn’t it better to have at least a sub category for transgenders, particularly because most of us don’t have community which deprives us of benefits anyway. Treating us like an ‘other’ category or not taking our changed identity into consideration deprives us of all opportunities.”

Eligibility in the TNPSC is important to her because a government job will help her family accept her. “Many of us are comfortable coming out in the open about our transgender identity only after we get jobs so that our studies are not affected,” she said.

Swapna’s case has brought in much relief to the community members who say this will encourage them to give importance to education. Selvi, a male-to-female transgender, said, “I quit my job as a consultant physiotherapist because they forced me to use a separate toilet, even after my surgery. We want the government to open up opportunities for us and make necessary facilities too.”

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