Joining the police force was a dream come true for this promising athlete from Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu. But the joy did not last long as she was dismissed from service a couple of months later. Reason: it was found during a routine medical check that she was a transgender.
Hailing from a poor family — her father works as a scavenger in the local municipality — the constable tried her best to convince police officials that she would produce results on a par with their expectations, but in vain. The department made it clear that the force could accommodate either men or women, but there was no place for the third gender.
She had a good track record in sports, NCC and academics. She performed well in the written examination, physical test and personal interview and was selected for the post of Grade-II police constable. “Women police recruits have to undergo a medical check for pregnancy. During this exercise, it was found that this particular constable was a transgender. She had qualified based on the physical standards set for women. After a preliminary enquiry, the person was dismissed from service,” a senior police official told The Hindu .
The woman participated in State-level athletic meets and bagged several medals. On hearing the news, her shocked parents appealed to the Superintendent of Police not to make public the reason for her dismissal.
This is not the first time that a transgender who made it to the force was unable to function. “Santhi Soundararajan, who made the country proud by winning a silver medal at the Asian Games in Doha, also qualified for appointment in the police department. Despite repeated reminders from the Police Training College, she did not join duty. Perhaps, she was scared that her gender might cost her the job someday…,” the officer said. Santhi had failed a gender test and lost her silver medal.
V. Suresh, advocate and human rights activist, said it was grossly unfair that a person who qualified for a post should be denied the opportunity and penalised for what nature had given to that person. “This is also arbitrary and goes against Constitutional principles. Article 15 provides for social justice in the context of people suffering discrimination. Transgenders squarely fall under this category, though the term was not used when the Constitution was written. The very spirit of Article 15 is to undo discrimination by providing reservation.”
Saying that Tamil Nadu was in the forefront in devising social policies, Dr. Suresh, who is also the national general secretary of PUCL, wanted the state to take a stand on the issue of transgenders and render justice by accommodating them as a category in education and employment.
According to Vikranth Prasanna, founder of ‘Chennai Dost’, which supports the LGBT community in Tamil Nadu, there was a need for a support system to educate and empower transgenders. “We appreciate the initiative of the Dindigul Collector who gave a job to a transgender in a Government Hospital. We hear that students were sent out of colleges when their gender transformation became visible. Even in a popular IT firm, a well-qualified transgender was asked to leave,” he said.
This kind of discrimination would only force transgenders to indulge in commercial sex or resort to begging. “If livelihood is not guaranteed even to the qualified ones, where will they go?” he asked.