Challenges are far from over

She aspires to work towards upliftment of people from her community. Infodea spoke to her about her views on life and her aspirations.
Ankita P. Doshi, INN/CHENNAI, @Infodeaofficial 

But determination to achieve is stronger

June 30, last year was a day of utmost importance for Satyashree Sharmila. For it was a day the transgender advocate got registrations in Bar Council. Popularity rained on her.
While challenges continue to bother her, determination to achieve something valuable in life remains strong in her. She aspires to work towards upliftment of people from her community.
Infodea spoke to her about her views on life and her aspirations. Excerpts of the chat are given below:
Q When did you realize that you are different from others?
A: From the age of five, I started feeling that I was different from others. I liked playing with girls and being like them. At the age of 10, I started helping mom in the household chores. I used to wake up in the morning and help mummy in cooking, washing utensils and doing Rangoli outside the house. People used to praise me for this, but whenever I dressed like girls I was beaten. Perhaps my parents then realized who I was but they used to pressurize me to dress up and behave like boys.
Q When did you feel that you could not live under pressure and criticism?
A: After completing my 10 th grade, when I got admission in 11 th , I completely realized that I was different from others. But because of family’s fear and social system, I was not able to talk openly about it. Then I started interacting with transgender community and eventually the desire to know more about them grew. At that point I felt like running away and living a life according to me but the fear of people, discrimination towards people like us and love for family stopped me from doing it. In the year 2000, I passed my Plus-two examination and enrolled in the undergraduate Company Secretary (BCS) course. By then my friendship with the transgenders became stronger and an urge to take serious steps arouse.
Q Tell us about the situation that motivated you take law as your career?
A: Being an advocate was not my decision, it was my father’s decision that I had to forcefully agree. After completing graduation in 2004, I decided to join the masters in Company Secretary (MCS) course, but my father kept insisting on doing Law. I got admission for MCS at Alagappa University in Karaikudi and the law results were not out yet. So, I started off with my MCS studies and it was after six months that I got a seat in Central Law College in Salem. According to a deal with my father I then had to take admission in Law College leaving MCS studies.
Q Why did it take so long to start the practice after completing studies?
A: During my law course, I got an opportunity to stay out of the house. I openly met people of my kind and got to know them better. I also realized that it is very difficult for people like us to live in the society with dignity. Meanwhile, in 2006, I broke my relations with family and came to Mumbai. There I met my master Sharmila who advised me to live my life with pride. Even I decided to use my education for the betterment of my community. To survive in Mumbai, I had to beg for money in trains. Doing this, me and my team was once arrested by the police.
The inspector questioned me for which I replied in English. Amazed by this, he said’ “Why don’t you do some job instead of this to earn your living?” I replied “will you allow us to work as maid at your home? No, right. Then what do I do apart from this”. Later, I started working with the National AIDS Center Society to educate sex workers and raise awareness about HIV and its prevention. In the year 2009, I started a Communication Based Organization called ‘Darpan’. Under this, I did lot of things for the development of my community. By 2014, I got them their voter ID cards. It was the first time that a person got a voter ID card in the category of transgender rather than male or female. Meanwhile, I wrote several nomination letters to the Bar Council of Mumbai and New Delhi but did not get any reply.
Q How do you intend to work for the progress of transgender community?
A: My prime focus will always be to break all the walls that come in our way to success. And I’m extremely happy that because of our strong protest against the Transgender Persons Bill 2016, Rajya Sabha did not pass it. The whole transgenders community was disappointed and against this bill as in not in our favour. Currently we are working on implementation of NALSA (National Legal Service Authority) judgement that was passed way back in 2014 by the supreme court. I also have other plans that targets to eliminate grass root level discrimination that prevails towards us in the society.
Q What is the role of media?
A: Media is a very powerful weapon. I am personally very thankful to media because it got me my family and their affection back. After becoming India’s First Transgender advocate I became one among media’s top headlines, the news spread and finally my parents accepted me. Our efforts are in vain without media’s coverage. Media has contributed in sensitising the situations for us and supported in the development of our community.
Q What is that one message/advice you would like to give to our readers? 
A: My request is mainly to all the youngsters, “You are the future of this nation. Try knowing more about our community because one among you can become future judges, lawyers or policy makers. Treat us like normal beings and do not look up at us with weird eyes.

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